Zimbabwe is pressing ahead with a controversial Bill that critics say seeks to criminalise the operations of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the country.

According to senior government officials, amendments to the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVOs) Act is designed to stop illegal money from coming into the country under the guise of NGO funding, but is allegedly used to push a political agenda and political lobbying.

The ruling party, Zanu PF, has been suspicious of NGOs, routinely accusing them of working with hostile foreign countries to push what it calls a “regime change agenda”.

In recent days, members of the public have been invited by Parliament to contribute their views on the proposed amendments.

Violent interruptions have marred these public hearings by what rights groups say are ruling party activists eager to see the Bill passed into law.

Early this month, Midlands Provincial Affairs minister Larry Mavima said the country did not need NGOs as Zimbabwe was not at war and advised NGOs to “go to Ukraine” where their services are needed.

Originally published in BulawayoNews24