NON-GOVERNMENTAL organisations (NGOs) operating in Harare yesterday hit back at Harare Metropolitan provincial development coordinator (PDC) Tafadzwa Muguti saying he had no mandate to order them to report to him.
Muguti triggered a storm last week when he ordered civic organisations to submit their operational strategies to him, a move observers said was a plot to try to muzzle anti-government voices.
But more than 10 organisations that include the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe, and National Association for Youth Organisations, Media Alliance of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe National Students Union and Zimbabwe Election Support Network, among others, yesterday said Muguti was offside.
The organisations said Muguti’s appointment was illegal and unconstitutional, hence he had no mandate to give them such orders.
“Your office of PDC is non-existent in the statutes,” the civic groups said in a letter to Muguti dated July 7.
“In the event that you believe you have the same functions as would be held by the provincial administrators in terms of the Act, a reading of section 10 of this Act clearly points towards the fact that your powers are confined to the co-ordination of the various ministries and organs of central government.
“Your office, therefore, has no mandate to regulate the operations and clearances of NGO activities, more specifically because your functions are restricted to governmental development and your office has no executive functions.”
The NGOs said there was a need for government to keep their practice independent as they were playing a key role in sustainable development.
“In the circumstances, we hold the genuine view that your directives are unlawful and have no effect at law. In the event that you decide to act upon your illegal letter, then and in that event all and any appropriate legal steps will be undertaken to protect ourselves. Be guided accordingly.”
In his letter to the NGOs, Muguti said civic organisations would have to run all their programmes through his office as all their operations and clearance were now domiciled in his office.
“You also directed that all NGOs should submit to your office their work plans for the year 2021 as well as information relating to workshops, commissioning of projects and what you described as any other pertinent information by the 9th of July 2021,” the NGOs further said.
“You also invited all NGO country directors for a courtesy call with you and the Minister for Provincial Affairs Oliver Chidawu.
“We have noted with concern that you have not provided the legal basis upon which you have made this request. It would have been extremely helpful if such a basis had been clearly laid out.
“We believe you draw your mandate from the Minister of State for Harare Provincial Affairs and Devolution.
“We note that although the Provincial Councils and Administration Act provides for provincial governors and provincial administrators, currently there are Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs and PDCs.”
Government has often accused NGOs of working with the opposition to effect regime change in the country.
Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi in June threatened to name and shame NGOs he claimed were anti-government.
He said government would take action against the errant NGOs.
Ziyambi refused to comment yesterday, referring questions to Labour minister Paul Mavima, who was not immediately available.