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statement on the NGO Bill in Zimbabwe
Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
August 29, 2004
excuse for intrusion, clamp down and closures of critical NGOs"
We the undersigned
members and participants to the Media Institute of Southern Africa
(MISA) Annual General Meeting held in Maseru - Lesotho, from 26
– 27 August 2004, unreservedly condemn aspects of the Non Governmental
Organizations Bill which has been gazetted in Zimbabwe, especially
those clauses specifically designed to exert full and complete control
over NGOs and other human rights organizations.
NGO legislation will not enhance democracy in Zimbabwe, but only
serve to further severely curtail people’s civil and political rights.
the principle of regulation, accountability and transparency in
the operations of NGOs and any institution, we note with concern
that the NGO Bill does not conform to democratic principles and
the rights of Zimbabweans to freedom of association and assembly.
We note that
the Zimbabwean constitution guarantees the right to freedom of expression
NGO activities, banning funding from outside sources, and heavily
penalizing NGOs in their work, the proposed law goes beyond acceptable
democratic principles and criminalizes the noble work of NGOs.
Bill says its intention is to bring sanity in the NGO sector, MISA
notes with grave concern that the registration procedures and monitoring
mechanisms to be implemented by the proposed NGO Council, will result
in the government’s direct interference with the work of NGOs to
the extent that they cease to be NGOs but extensions of government
While the government
of Zimbabwe argues that the proposed law is meant to protect public
interest by ensuring that NGOs are governed and administered properly
and use donor and public funds for the specific objectives for which
they were established, our analysis of the draft bill proves otherwise.
This is a political
gimmick designed to administratively create criminals out of civil
society organizations especially human rights activists, so as to
provide excuses for intrusion, clampdown and closures of NGOs.
It should be
highlighted that the Government of Zimbabwe has in the past three
years introduced draconian media and security laws that have led
to the shrinkage of democratic space.
As a result,
independent newspapers and broadcasting stations have been shut
down. The Minister of Information has powers through the Media and
Information Commission to license and register journalists and publishing
can be withdrawn if it is deemed that one is breaking the law on
various spurious grounds.
call on all concerned SADC member states and citizens to take note
of these sad developments and act against the entrenched authoritarian
tendencies of the government in Zimbabwe.
We call for
the repeal of all repressive legislation, namely the Public Order
and Security Act, Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act, and the Broadcasting Services Act.
We resolve to
support Misa-Zimbabwe and other civic society organisations in Zimbabwe
in their struggle for the realisation of the ideals spelt out in
the Windhoek Declaration and African Charter on Human and Peoples’
the legitimate right of Misa-Zimbabwe to operate in the country
and work with other democratic forces that have sought to regain
public space that civil society organisations and social movements
have lost since 2000.
Misa-South Africa, Misa-Zambia, Misa-Malawi, Misa Mozambique, Misa-Swaziland,
Misa-Namibia, Misa-Botswana, Lesotho Association of Non-Governmental
21 Johann Albrecht Street
Fax: +264 61 248016
Cell: +264 81 128 3919
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