SUSPECTED Zanu PF supporters on Monday disrupted Parliament’s public hearings on the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Amendment Bill in Harare.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service is currently gathering views on the Bill viewed to be oppressive as its provisions will effectively eliminate CSOs involved in promoting and defending human rights in the country.

Yesterday, public hearings on the Bill were held in Highfield (Harare), Guruve and Mutare.  They will also be held in other provinces in the country.

In Highfield, Zanu PF activists dominated the event and disrupted the public hearings.

In a statement yesterday, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition  (CiZC) said the disruptions were likely to compromise citizens’ participation in the public hearings.

“We deplore the violent nature of the Zanu PF activists and implore the ruling party to exercise tolerance of divergent views.  We reiterate that amendments to the PVO Act are part of the efforts to close the democratic space in Zimbabwe and citizens must unite in rejecting these amendments which will curtail fundamental freedoms and entrench authoritarian rule,” the CiZC statement read.

Efforts to get a comment from Zanu PF spokesperson Chris Mutsvangwa were fruitless.  Zanu PF commissar Mike Bimha said he could not comment on the issue as he was in a meeting.

Some of the views aired before the disruptions included that the Bill gazetted in November 2021 should not give the government powers to interfere in operations of CSOs.

A Highfield resident said:  “Ministers have a lot of things that they can focus on and, therefore, must not interfere in operations of CSOs.  They should let NGOs operate freely as they assist the poor with fees payment, food assistance and also assist people with disabilities.”

Another resident said NGOs have been coming up with youth-friendly projects to assist the youth.

In Guruve, a resident said operations of NGOs should be scrutinised as they used to give food aid in bags with notes encouraging people to vote for a certain political party.

Another Guruve resident said stakeholders should be given enough time to scrutinise the Bill as it was not unpacked to the public.

The European Union recently said the PVO Amendment Bill was one of the reasons sanctions on Zimbabwe were renewed last month.

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