Zimbabwe creating legislation that would ban Private Voluntary Organisations (PVOs) suspected to be funding or campaigning for politicians in any election in the country.
The Sunday Mail, a state-run newspaper, reports that the proposed amendments to the Private Voluntary Organizations Act would include the shutting down of some PVOs and removal of their directors by a registrar, appointed by the government.
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The newspaper reports that the proposed amendments to the Act would soon be tabled before the Parliament of Zimbabwe.
Under the new regulations, PVOs funding or supporting candidates in an election will face heavy fines or imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or both. At the same time, operating an unregistered PVO would attract a 10-year sentence.
A registrar, appointed by the government, would be expected to collect registration fees for PVOs and be in a position to run these organizations if they are found to be violating Zimbabwean laws.
Currently, PVOs operate under the purview of the director of social welfare in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. Reads Section 5 of the Bill:
When any private voluntary organisation that supports or opposes any political party or candidate in a presidential, parliamentary or local government election or is a party to any breach of Section 7 under Part III of the Political Parties (Finance) Act (Chapter 2:12) as a contributor of funds to a political party or candidate or otherwise shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of Level Twelve or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year, or both such fine or such imprisonment.
Zanu PF’s Tafadzwa Muguti recently attempted to introduce such regulations, which were declared null and void by a local court.
PVOs say this latest move is an attempt by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to bring back Muguti’s dumped regulations, which would lead to the shutting down of all PVOs said to be anti-government.
More: The Sunday Mail