The Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) has launched a report titled, ‘Civic space contestation ahead of 2023 general elections.
Apparently, the report has revealed that threats against Civic Society Organisations (CSO)s by senior government officials have been intensified.
The closure of civic space has worsened since the ascent to power of President Mnangagwa as evidenced by analysis of public data sets published by international humans rights watchdogs, says
Bekezela Gumbo, ZDI Principal Researcher.
He adds that the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Bill provides an enabling legal framework for the President Emmerson Mnangagwa regime to demonize, discredit and erode the legitimacy of CSOs in the eyes of their target constituencies.
“The PVO Bill will lead to a sharp shrinkage in the contribution of NPOs/NGOs to the national economy which will in turn intensify the economic hardships in Zimbabwe,” he notes.
Weaponisation of the law against CSOs is one indicator showing the closure of civic space in Zimbabwe as revealed by the research.
Meanwhile, the PVO Bill if it sails through and become law, it would give government more powers to kick out perceived regime opposing NGOs.
The Bill in its current form contains a provision that would allow the registration of a PVO to be cancelled if it engages in political activities.
The nature of the activities that might trigger cancellation is not clearly stated in the Bill.
The PVO Amendment Bill proposes amendments that interfere with the operations of NGOs with long-term consequences that may lead to organizations closing or losing their funding.