Human rights defender and director of ZimRights, Dzikamai Bere,

CIVIC society organisations (CSOs) should hold themselves to the highest standards of legitimacy and accountability and act as true representatives of the communities they serve, human rights defender and director of ZimRights, Dzikamai Bere, has said.

Speaking on the In Conversation with Trevor interview series, Bere said CSOs risked losing credibility over questionable standards.

“In a world where CSOs are becoming ever more influential, it is imperative that they adhere to the highest standards of legitimacy and transparency,” he said.

“Without these foundational pillars, CSOs risk losing their credibility and, ultimately, their right to operate.

“As we look to the future, it is clear that only those organisations that can maintain the trust of their beneficiaries will stand the test of time.”

Bere emphasised the principles of legitimacy, transparency and accountability as cornerstones for CSOs’ operations. He said it was crucial that CSOs operated justifiably and maintained trust with their beneficiaries.

“In 10 years, we may witness the death of CSOs as we know them, especially if there is no value and paradigm shift in the running of these key institutions.”

His call aligns with international standards set by instruments such as the International Civil Society Organisations Accountability Charter, which outlines principles for organisations to operate transparently.

Additionally, the United Nations Development Programme provides a toolkit for strengthening partnerships with CSOs, advocating the protection of human rights and the empowerment of women.

CSOs are recognised for their role in sustainable development, poverty alleviation, and monitoring aid and development commitments.

The Civil Society Partnership for Development Effectiveness notes that insights from CSOs are vital in global policy discussions.

In Zimbabwe, CSO are increasingly under government spotlight with authorities seeking to regulate their operations through the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill.

The Bill was sent back to Parliament for further discussion.

Bere, however, said government should support an environment where human rights are respected and upheld.

“As Zimbabwe navigates complex socio-political landscapes, the role of CSOs remains pivotal in shaping a democratic and just society,” he said.

ZimRights has been at the forefront of championing the rights of citizens.

Bere, a seasoned human rights activist and transitional justice expert, has led the organisation in various capacities, fostering a culture of human rights and social justice. — NewsDay

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