President Emmerson Mnangagwa says he will “speedily” sign into law the Private Voluntary Organisation Bill (PVO) once it reaches his desk.
Writing in his weekly column in the state run The Sunday Mail, Mnangagwa said no amount of pressure from foreign governments will stop the signing of the Bill into law.
The Bill was recently passed by Parliament, but some civic bodies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) immediately implored Mnangagwa to ignore it.
Critics argue that some provisions of the Bill may serve as the basis for restricting the operation of many NGOs.
However, Mnangagwa said the NGO sector “had become a veritable refuge for the deviant and wayward, and for actors with sinister motives”.
He said some Western countries preferred to work with and through particularly selected NGOs instead of working directly with the Zimbabwean government.
Wrote President Mnangagwa: “Why would foreign sovereigns seek to relate to another sovereign State through NGOs? Foreigners must keep out, as we realise and fulfill our sovereignty through the laws we make for ourselves.
“On that score, no amount of foreign noise will stop the passing of the PVO law which, in any case, has gone through our Parliament comprising all the elected parties and representatives of our country.
“We do not enjoy democratic space or any of our freedoms through foreign NGOs; we enjoy them every day in the very society we have founded and built through our own blood and struggles.
“This must sink in the minds of all those who solicitously involve themselves unduly in our legislative processes.
“Let me repeat: once the Bill is cleaned and sent to my Office, I will sign it into law. Speedily, too!!
Mnangagwa said some of the NGOs had deviated from their mandate and there was no longer any accountability.
He said: “In spite of the clarity of the law then, and of terms and conditions for registration, some NGOs wilfully departed from their original, founding mandates. Worse, many had become a law unto themselves, all in the name of defending and serving the poor.
“Others abused resources donated to assist the poor to self-enrich themselves. Accountability had broken down and fortunes were being made in the name of our poor. That was callous.”
NGOs have argued that the new law is deliberately targeted at impeding their work.