Wednesday, 11 May 2016 00:00

Enabling Environment Survey Report for Zimbabwe

The report acknowledges the Busan Partnership which affirms CSOs role as independent development actors in their own right and highlights within the context of Zimbabwe issues within the enabling environment that have created or limited space for CSOs. The advent of the new constitution sets a window of hope in strengthening the development effectiveness agenda within the country as the constitution promotes civic participation, guarantees the freedom of assembly and association, promotes human rights and fosters good governance. These are critical for CSOs engagement, participation and development work. Zimbabwe has ratified various human rights instruments which include the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR); Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); African Charter on Human and Peoples' Right and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. These provide guarantees for CSOs to enjoy rights to association, peaceful assembly and expression allowing for their work to progress smoothly.

Since the tenure of its office in 2013, the government has made efforts to engage with CSOs, as well as the international community. For instance, Zimbabwean CSOs were consulted in the process of the preparation of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset) in the last quarter of 2013. The government is in the process of aligning laws and has continued to make use of old laws, some of which have reinforced a restrictive environment on the part of CSOs. It is important to note that Zimbabwe has placed frameworks both at law and policy to regulate the work of CSOs. However most of these have come under sharp criticism for restricting the environment of CSOs. Succinct examples of draconian legislation include: the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) which work hand in glove curbing freedoms of assembly; association; media and access to information and the Zimbabwe Youth Council (ZYC) Act and Statutory Instrument (S.I) 4 which both curtail youth rights to freedom of association limiting the growth of vibrant youth movements within the country.

Owing to the continued stance by government of suppressing the work of CSOs, the report highlights the plight of CSOs working in Zimbabwe sharing recent cases which demonstrate the urgent need for CSOs to be supported. It notes the disappearance of human rights activist and journalist Itai Dzamara, the continued arrests of CSO leaders and denial of the right to peaceful assembly of CSOs such as Women of Zimbabwe Arize (WOZA). The report proffers recommendations based on best practice within the region and the lived realities of CSOs that were engaged in the process of creating the country report.

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