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NGO Bill referred back to parliament
May 20, 2005

The controversial Non-Government Organisations (NGO) Bill passed by Parliament in December last year has been referred back to parliament after the lapse of the 21 days within which President Robert Mugabe should have signed it into law.

According to the state-controlled national daily, The Herald, the Bill will soon be retabled in Parliament to address issues raised by President Mugabe before it is signed into law.

In an interview on Monday, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Nicholas Goche, said stakeholders were being consulted to address the issues raised by the President.

According to the Constitution, the President has 21 days within which to assent to a Bill or withhold his assent upon its presentation to him by Parliament.

The NGO Bill seeks to provide for the operations, monitoring and regulation of NGOs. It seeks to among other measures, bar foreign funding to organisations that are involved in human rights and governance issues.

The Bill has been widely condemned as designed to exert full and complete control over NGOs and other human rights organisations thereby severely curtailing people’s civil and political rights.

While the government argues that the proposed law is meant to protect public interest by ensuring that NGOs, donor and public funds are administered properly, an analysis of the bill proves otherwise.

It seeks to create criminals out of civil society organisations especially human rights activists by providing excuses for intrusion, clampdown and closures of NGOs.

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