Court hears Harare NGO ban challenge

Zimstar News

The High Court is this Friday set to hear a case in which some Harare NGOs are challenging their recent ban by Harare Provincial Development Coordinator Tafadzwa Muguti for ignoring orders to furnish his office with their workplans.

Justice Ester Muremba will preside over the urgent chamber application brought before her by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.

The NGOs want the courts to declare the actions by Muguti unlawful and to interdict him from interfering with their operations.

The organisations alleged that the actions by Muguti are illegal as they violate the right to administrative justice.

Tonderai Bhatasara of the Zimbabwe lawyers for human rights is representing the groups.

Muguti torched a storm 30 June 2021 when he ordered all NGOs operating in the metropolitan province to submit their 2021 workplans as well as information relating to workshops, commissioning of projects among other activities before 9 July.

He also invited all NGO country directors to pay courtesy calls on him and the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution.

But some defiant NGOs were quick to challenge the legality of the directive, coming as it did, they said, from an officer who was trying to grant himself powers that did not exist under the country’s statutes.

The NGOs accused the controversial bureaucrat of attempts to meddle in their lawful affairs, declaring they will not be commandeered by an official who was trying to overstep his mandate.

“The Press statement is in clear breach of the Provincial Councils and Administration Act and the Private Voluntary Organisations Act,” the NGOs submit in their court challenge.

They said Muguti’s order violated sections 57, 68 and 69 of the Constitution.

“Muguti’s statement caused uncertainty in their operations in general and that the matter requires urgent intervention of the court to stop the arbitrary exercise of administrative powers by an appointed official,” they submitted.

The NGOs asked the court to set aside Muguti’s declaration and that all respondents and anyone acting on their behalf be interdicted from disrupting, suspending, cancelling or in anyway interfering with their operations.