Civic society organisations (CSOs) on Friday filed an urgent chamber court application, seeking to stop government moves to ban their operations.
The applicants, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, said they wanted to be allowed to continue operating in the interim while awaiting a court determination on the constitutionality of the ban.
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On 29 July, Harare Provincial Development Coordinator (PDC), Tafadzwa Muguti, said that NGOs and Trusts that have failed to comply with a directive to present their credentials to his office by 30 June 2021 will be forced to cease operations until they comply.
The applicants want a court declaration that Muguti, Harare Provincial Affairs minister Oliver Chidawu and Local Government minister July Moyo have no regulatory powers over CSOs, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and private voluntary organisations.
Only 40 NGOs have been permitted to operate after they presented their credentials to Muguti.
The NGOs, through their lawyer Tonderai Bhatasara of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, pleaded with the court to nullify Muguti’s directive for them to report to his office,
They want Muguti to bear the costs of the lawsuit.
The ban comes after President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government accused NGOs of fronting the interests of the opposition and has on several occasions threatened to shut them down.
The “attack” against NGOs started during the late Robert Mugabe’s era.
Critics say the government is afraid of being held to account by CSOs.
More: The Standard