The proposed amendments to the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Act have emerged as a central lynchpin in the authoritarian consolidation project of the President Emmerson Mnangagwa administration, reveals Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) report.

The ZDI report says the amendments came against a background of increased anti-authoritarian rule pressure mounted by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Human Rights Defenders (HRDs), Community Based Organisations (CBOs), students unions, trade unions and residents associations in in Southern Africa.

“CSOs have been viewed as key enablers in the democratic breakthrough and/ or transition in Malawi and Zambia in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

“It is against this background that the government of Zimbabwe seeks to constrict the civic space used by CSOs in a bid to block the Malawian and Zambian precedent from happening in Zimbabwe.

“The PVO Act therefore represents the state’s legal tool or weapon that is aimed at stepping up surveillance, infiltrating and octopus grip on the operations of human rights and democracy defenders in Zimbabwe,” reads part of the ZDI report summary.

The paper argues that the PVO Bill is a conflict igniting factor as the country heads towards the 2023 elections.

The paper analyses the PVO Bill paying particular attention on how the Bill emasculates the system of checks and balances exercised by the civil society.