Civic Society Organisations (CSOs) under the banner of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum have petitioned Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda expressing concern over the extensive changes made on the PVO Amendment Bill without public consultations.
In a letter gleaned by 263Chat, the CSOs said is in violation of section 141 of the Constitution which orders Parliament to raise public participation in lawmaking processes through consultation with interested stakeholders.
“We write on behalf of the undersigned Civil Society Organisations (CS0s) to urgently express our concerns with regards to the constitutionality of the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill 2021 in terms of the processes so far and its current content. CSOs have noted that the Bill has undergone extensive additional amendments that have reshaped the substance of the Bill that was discussed in public hearings and consultations.
“We are particularly concerned that the amendments have been introduced without public consultations. This has been done in violation of section 141 of the Constitution (2013), which mandates Parliament to invoke public participation in its legislative processes through a process of consultation with interested stakeholders,” wrote Forum executive director Musa Kika.
He said the CSOs are concerned that by amending the PVO Act without consultation, Parliament will have departed from its dictates.
“Mr Speaker Sir, your office is mandated to ensure that due process is followed in the process of law-making. In this case, your office has an important bearing in ensuring that the processes leading to the passage of laws abide by the letter and spirit of the Constitution. We fear that allowing the current process of amending the PVO Act and the substance of that Bill without consultation, will depart from that mandate.
“The proposed Bill, as amended, will have dire consequences of restricting civic space, the work of civil society, and access to humanitarian support services in Zimbabwe provided by non-state actors. Under the circumstances, we implore upon your esteemed office to insist on due procedure, and to insist on the adherence of the proposed law to the Constitution.
“While we note the reading in the National Assembly of the non-adverse report on constitutionality of the Bill by the Parliamentary Legal Committee, the unconstitutionality of most provisions of this Bill are self-evident. We propose that the Bill be withdrawn, and that a comprehensive process of fresh consultations be held with the public and CSOs. We trust you will consider our submissions and look at them favourably, in the name of our supreme Constitution, and in the name of strengthening our democracy in Zimbabwe,” he said.