In a report titled Civic Society Contestation Ahead of 2023, the Institute said the reforms have been introduced through amendments of the Constitution to narrow participation of political opponents.
“The study found that Zimbabwe in the post-Mugabe era has witnessed a sequence of political reforms designed to consolidate authoritarian rule. These include: political appointments and programmes that intensify militarisation of key state institution and Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) to buttress president Mnangagwa’s staying in power, regulations and statutory instruments that muzzle opposition parties and amendments of legislation and the Constitution to narrow political participation of opponents of the ruling ZANU PF party and widen the power of the executive branch of government.
“This authoritarian consolidation policy has been very injurious to the democratic gains of the 2009-2013 power sharing reforms. The most injured being: judicial independence, separation of powers, constitutionalism, political participation and role of civil society. On authoritarian consolidation through amendments and political appointments, the study found that identity politics has been used in appointment of key leaders of the security forces to buttress President Mnangagwa’s stay in power.
“The government under President Mnangagwa has presented a lot of amendments and legislation including the Constitutional Amendment Bill No1 and 2, the Patriotic Bill, Cyber and Data Protection Act, Freedom of Information Act (The new AIPPA) and the Private Voluntary Organisations Amendment (PVO) Bill which reflect the consolidation of power and a continuation of Mugabe’s legacy. Findings of the study show that the closure of the civic space has worsened since the ascent to power of President Mnangagwa,” read the report
ZDI said closure of the Civic Society through the Private Voluntary Organisations Bill will threatens tax revenue for the Government.
“Closure of the civic space as a result of the PVO Bill will lead to a sharp shrinkage in the contribution of NPOs/NGOs to the nation’s economy which will in turn intensify the economic hardships already felt by the citizens of Zimbabwe. The operation of NGOs is critical for generating revenue for the government through taxes. The PVO Bill threatens to rob the country of this critical tax revenue stream when implemented. Critical sectors of the economy in Zimbabwe rely more on NGOs support and the PVO Bill and attendant closure of the civic space will have a reductive impact on this support in Zimbabwe,” said ZDI.