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Harare 'polishing up' controversial NGO Bill
March 07, 2006
HARARE - Zimbabwe
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa on Monday told ZimOnline that
the government was just "polishing up" its Non-governmental
Organisations (NGO) Bill before the controversial law that will
impose severe restrictions on civic bodies is brought back to Parliament
said the Bill would become law this year but did not give specific
dates, said Harare was convinced it needed the controversial law
to deal with some NGOs that he claimed were working with foreign
powers to topple the government.
He said: "There
are still some organisations purporting to be NGOs when their interests
are to topple the government with foreign backing. These are the
NGOs which the Bill will be aiming to deal with.
NGOs involved in humanitarian aid will not be affected."
Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party accuse some NGOs they have not
named of using charity work as a pretext to support the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change party and to incite Zimbabweans to
rise against the government.
But Mugabe last
May refused to sign the NGO Bill which Parliament had passed in
December 2004 after marathon debate and fierce opposition from the
signature is necessary for Bills passed by Parliament to become
effective law, did not say why he refused to assent to the draft
law, with speculation strong that he wanted the law tightened further.
is also ZANU PF legal affairs secretary, said after the NGO Bill
was rejected by Mugabe it was put on the backburner as the ruling
party focused on pushing through Constitutional Amendment Number
17, which recreated the House of Senate and also virtually nationalised
The ruling party
and the government were now finalising changes to the NGO Bill,
Chinamasa said. He would not say what these changes were.
In its original
form the NGO Bill among other things proposed to ban all civic bodies
from carrying out voter education while those focusing on governance
or human rights-related work were to be prohibited from receiving
The Bill also
provided for the appointment by the government of an NGO council
that would register NGOs and monitor their activities. The council
would have powers to deregister and ban NGOs it deemed were not
toeing the line.
say if the law is eventually enacted, it could force at least 60
percent of civic and aid groups to wind up operations, a development
that would affect the monitoring of human rights violations in the
country as well as humanitarian work such as HIV/AIDS prevention.
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