Maguwu Demands Reconvening of Flawed PVO Amendment Bill Consultations

Maguwu Demands Reconvening of Flawed PVO Amendment Bill Consultations

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PROMINENT environmental and human rights campaigner Farai Maguwu has asked Parliament to reconvene public hearings on the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill following the chaotic and flawed public consultation process held last week to solicit input on the controversial draft piece of legislation.

Maguwu, who is the Executive Director of the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) engaged Tinashe Chinopfukutwa and Kelvin Kabaya of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who on Tuesday 21 May 2024 wrote and delivered a letter of demand to Speaker of Parliament Advocate Jacob Mudenda, where-in he asked Parliament through its joint Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and the Thematic Committee on Gender Development to reconvene public hearings on the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill.

The public hearings on the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill were held from 13 May 2024 to 17 May 2024 across the country.

However, Maguwu, who attended the public meeting held at Ambassador Hotel in Harare on Friday 17 May 2024, protested that four meetings convened in Chinhoyi, Gweru, Masvingo and in the capital city, had been violently disrupted by some rowdy people, some whom, were visibly intoxicated and who jeered, sang and disrupted the proceedings such that he together with other members of the public who attended the meetings, could not participate and give their contributions during the consultations.

Maguwu charged that in Harare, the situation quickly escalated and degenerated to such an extent that legislators, who were part of the portfolio committee and the thematic committee, fled from the venue resulting in the meeting ending abruptly before any public views could be solicited and recorded while Zimbabwe Republic Police officers had to be called to intervene to restore order and ensure the safety of people.

This, Maguwu said, prevented himself and other members of the public from participating in the public hearing processes.

In reconvening the public hearings, the environmental and human rights campaigner said Parliament would be fulfilling its duty of ensuring that members of the public are involved in parliamentary processes and are also consulted about Bills as provided in section 139(3) of the Constitution as read with section 141 of the Constitution, which places a constitutional obligation on Parliament to facilitate public involvement in its legislative and other processes and in the processes of its committees including ensuring that interested parties are consulted about Bills being considered by the legislative body.

The CNRG leader said he together with other citizens have a right to participate in the public affairs of the country in terms of the provisions of section 67(1)(d) of the Constitution, which guarantees the right of individuals to participate in gatherings or in any other manner in order to influence government policies.

Maguwu stressed that Parliament should not proceed to deliberate on the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill through placing it to the second reading stage as this would be done on the backdrop of a fundamentally flawed public consultation process, which is yet to be remedied.

Maguwu asked Advocate Mudenda and Parliament to immediately institute an investigation into the violent disruptions of the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill public hearings that took place in Harare, Chinhoyi, Gweru and Masvingo and to stop any further parliamentary processes relating to the controversial draft piece of legislation, including but not limited to the second and third reading stages.

In reconvening the public hearings, Maguwu said Parliament through its relevant committees, should take all measures including but not limited to the provision of increased security at the reconvened consultations to ensure that the public can effectively, reasonably and adequately express their views on the provisions of the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill.

Chinopfukutwa and Kabaya said they will consider petitioning the court in the event that Advocate Mudenda and Parliament refuse to comply with the environmental and human rights campaigner’s demands.

ENDS

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