NGOs fight govt order  

By NYASHA DUBE

HARARE Provincial Development coordinator Tafadzwa Muguti faces a high court challenge from two NGOs fighting plans to shut down noncompliant civil society organisations. 

On July 29 Maguti released a press statement directing all NGOs operating in Harare to submit their work plans, information on workshops and monthly reports to his office. 

Failure to comply with this directive would see law enforcement agents stepping in to stop the NGOs from conducting their operations in the communities. 

On Monday, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (Crisis) cited Muguti, Harare Provincial Affairs minister, Oliver Chidawu, Local Government minister July Moyo as respondents in the lawsuit. 

The duo also cited Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe and Public Service minister Sekesai Nzenza. 

Crisis and the Forum are accusing Muguti of abusing his authority and argue that the policy he is basing his press statement on is not a law and does not carry any criminal repercussions. 

“The 2003 policy which first respondent (Muguti) purports to be basing his press statement on, is not a law, it has no penal or criminal sanctions.  

“As a result, it is unlawful for the first respondent to give a blanket instruction to law enforcement agents to stop all the operations of NGOs which are not on his list of only 40 organisations. 

“I aver that even if there were some NGOs which were not operating in terms of the said policy, there are existing laws to deal with them instead of shutting down their operations,” reads the application. 

The Forum and Crisis further argued that the new policy should be declared invalid as Muguti does not have any regulatory authority over NGOs. 

“I aver that even if the first respondent is to be assumed to be a provincial administrator, his office falls within the office of the provincial governor.  

“Thus, he has no power other than what is provided in section 10 of the provincial councils and Administration Act. 

“I aver that the Act is clear that even the provincial governor has no regulatory authority nor does he have the power to register and deregister NGOs. 

“The power to register certain NGOs… is that of a Registrar of NGOs,” the application further stated. 

The Forum and Crisis are demanding that the court declare Muguti’s press statement to be unconstitutional and null and void. 

They are also seeking to have the court announce that Muguti, Chidawu and Moyo have no regulatory powers over NGOs, Trusts or faith-based organisations. 

Muguti, Chidawu, Moyo, Kazembe and Nzenza are yet to file their opposing papers to the application. – Daily News