WALPE says lack of political lobbying clarity in PVO Bill to be abused by govt

By Staff Writer

THE Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE) has warned the lack of clarity on political lobbying in the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Bill amendment risks being abused by government to unjustifiably shut down NGOs deemed errant.

Presenting feedback after attending almost all the PVO Bill hearings countrywide, WALPE warned against the existence of such loopholes.

“In the bill, political lobbying is not clarified leaving room for the government and its agencies to trivialise NGOs in the course of their operations.

“No evidence has been presented to substantiate the allegations that PVOs are responsible for any terrorist activity for which the law seeks to address.

“ This means that NGOs working on enhancing women political participation like WALPE are at risk of closure and attacks from the government and this will overall derail efforts towards advancement of gender equality,” said Walpe.

 The women’s group said NGOs particularly women’s rights organizations, have played an instrumental role on issues of sexual reproductive health rights (SRHR), constitutional awareness, ending gender based violence, unpaid care and domestic work, gender equality, climate change, child marriages but now risk closure.

“NGOs have been supporting communities to improve the welfare, education, health, advocacy for upholding of constitutional rights, which will leave communities vulnerable if their operations are restricted. The bill is giving the minister too much power,” said WALPE.

The organization said it is unheard of that the Bill empowers the minister to remove the leadership of NGOs who would have “digressed from their mandate” and appoint committees to the organizations who will not share the same vision and, uphold the same values on which an organization is premised.

“NGOs have been transparent when distributing aid in communities unlike some government departments who are partisan and politicize the process and have assisted communities in times of crisis like natural disasters where the government would have failed to cater for its people’s welfare,” the NGO said.

WALPE said issues of money laundering already covered in other pieces of legislations such that there is no need to bring in a new law to regulate that.

“NGOs have already been complying with registration processes with the local authorities and other government departments when getting into communities and there is no need to impose further restrictions,” the NGO added.

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