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Zimbabwe Crafting Regulations to Outlaw Private Voluntary Organizations 'Dabbling' in Politics

FILE: Supporters of MDC (Movement for Democratic Change Alliance) leader and opposition presidential candidate cheer outside the MDC headquarters in Harare, on July 31, 2018.

Zimbabwe is crafting regulations that would outlaw Private Voluntary Organizations (PVOs) suspected to be funding or campaigning for politicians in any election in the country.

According to the state-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper, 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.

The newspaper reports that the proposed amendments to the Act would soon be tabled by 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.

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.

Muguti, Public Service Minister Paul Mavima, Information Secretary Nick Mangwana and presidential spokesperson George Charamba were not available for comment. They were not responding to calls on their mobile phones.

Independent social and political commentator, Effie Dlela Ncube, said the government is planning to shut down all PVOs suspected to be anti-government.

"It's plan to leave Zanu PF untouched in elections. This will result in the shutting down of non-governmental organizations in Zimbabwe focusing on democracy, governance and related issues. It's a scary."