From the 28th of February to the 3rd of March 2022 Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe (LCDZ) moved around the districts of Harare, Bulawayo, Zhombe and Gwanda facilitating and capacitating Organisations of Persons with Disabilities and Women and Girls with Disabilities with the knowledge, skills and information for them to participate fully during the public consultations on the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment Bill.

The PVO Amendment Bill seeks to provide for the registration of private voluntary organizations, for the control of the collection of contributions for the objects of such organizations and of certain institutions, and for matters incidental thereto. The objective is to ensure that non-profit making organisations are not misused, whether as a way for radical organizations to pose as legitimate entities or to exploit legitimate entities as conduits for their financing or to conceal or obscure the clandestine diversion of funds intended for legitimate purposes.

The Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare Parliamentary Portfolio Committee held public hearings on the Private Voluntary Organization Amendment Bill (H.B.10, 2021). The public hearings were held in all ten provinces of the country, with LCDZ strategically attending hearings in four of the ten provinces. Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe, working hand in hand with its partners around the country, managed to mobilize Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) and Women and Girls with Disabilities (WaGwDs) in Harare, Zhombe, Bulawayo and Gwanda to attend the hearings so they effectively participate in national decisions that affect them.

In each of the four provinces, LCDZ met the OPDs and WaGwDs an hour before the commencement of the public consultations so as to acquaint them on the proposed Bill to enable effective engagement and meaningful participation during the hearings. In preparation for this, LCDZ and the Federation of Disabled Persons in Zimbabwe (FODPZ) came up with a position paper on the bill from a disability and OPDs perspective, highlighting the impact of the Bill on Persons with Disabilities (PWDs). Points raised by OPDs during the consultations were incorporated in the position paper for submission to parliament. 35 OPDs were supported under the project to attend the public hearings with 72 representatives, 44 being females and 28 males.

With such a significant number of OPDs turning up, many of them had their own submissions on the PVO Amendment Bill and how it is affecting them. Some of the concerns raised by the OPDs, took note of how Amendment Section 2 (3) of the PV0 ACT (17;05) gives centralized power on the minister, contradicting the devolution mantra expounded by the government through the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1). As a recommendation to this clause, the OPDs suggested the government set up a neutral and independent board to monitor the work of PVOs, were that board then reports to the government in areas that need intervention.

The OPDs also spoke on Amendment of Section 5 of Cap. 17:05 & Amendment of section 10 of Cap. 17:05 where Trusts will be ordered to register under the PVO Act, a very difficult and long process for OPDs, who are usually grassroots based and not financially resourced. The OPDs recommended that the current PVO Act remains as it is as DPOs can register as Trusts which is more affordable and easier for them as they register within their localities at no fee.

With multiple other concerns that were brought forward, LCDZ managed to capacitate OPDs and Women and Girls with Disabilities on the legislative and policy frameworks, based on evidence and in line with international human rights standards on all forms of Violence Against Women and Girls. It also supported and facilitated the engagement of women and girls with disabilities in parliamentary public consultations on draft bills. All this was made possible under the Spotlight Initiative Project which is an initiative of the United Nations funded by the European Union. The overall vision of the Spotlight Initiative in Zimbabwe is for women and girls to realize their full potential in a violence-free, gender-responsive and inclusive Zimbabwe.

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