Background Briefing

<<previous  |  index  |  next>>


To The Government and Parliament of Zimbabwe

  • Withdraw the proposed NGO Bill and amend it to bring it in line with Zimbabwe’s obligations under its Constitution, international human rights standards, the SADC Guidelines, and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

    Reforms should include:

  • Removing the provisions that deny local NGOs whose purposes include “issues of governance” access to foreign funding and that prohibit the registration of foreign NGOs involved in “issues of governance”.

  • Transforming the NGO Council into a more independent body that would promote a more positive climate between the government and NGOs.  In particular, changes should reduce the Minister’s power to control appointments to the NGO Council, creating a role for NGOs to provide input into the selection of the Council, and improving the balance of government and NGO representatives on the Council.

  • Simplifying the requirement for NGO registration by eliminating the requirements that NGOs register annually and pay an annual registration fee, and mandating time limits to expedite decisions on registration and de-registration.  Organizations that do not receive a decision on their registration request by a specific period should be deemed to be officially registered.

  • Instituting an appeals procedure to an independent administrative body to facilitate impartial adjudication of appeals against the decisions of the Minister and the NGO Council.

  • Eliminating the principle of criminal liability for statutory offences that improperly infringe upon fundamental rights, including the rights to freedom of association and expression.

    To SADC and its members - together and individually

  • Engage and urge the government of Zimbabwe to reconcile its proposed NGO law with SADC standards, including SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, and in particular, the freedoms of association and expression.  

    <<previous  |  index  |  next>>December 2004