SIDA, the biggest funder of legal projects in Zimbabwe has pulled out of the country mainly due to the repressive PVO Bill passed by the legislature

President Emmerson Mnangagwa


The Swedish International Development Corporation Agency (SIDA), the biggest funder of legal projects in Zimbabwe has pulled out of the country mainly due to the repressive PVO Bill passed by the legislature, The Mirror has been told.

The ramifications of the pull-out are far reaching and one of them is that Zimbabwe Legal Resources Foundation (LRF), a human rights entity that supports over 20 000 vulnerable women and children yearly to access justice closes at the end of this month as its funding dries up.

Over a dozen LRF offices are closing throughout the country with nine lawyers and over 40 support staff losing their jobs.
Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Monica Mutsvangwa regretted the closure of LRF and said it will have negative effects on women and children’s rights.

LRF supports women and children’s rights like inheritance, family law rights, property sharing, birth certificates for children and their legal representation. It trains traditional leaders like village heads and chiefs on the law and does public awareness campaigns on human rights which is an area that the ruling party is uncomfortable with.

The closure of LRF creates a void that will leave marginalized women and children with virtually no access to justice and hence a human rights crisis in the courts.

SIDA is also probably the largest donor funder of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Veritas, and Zimli. SIDA which ironically built several magistrates courts in Zimbabwe when President Mnangagwa was Minister of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has moved across the border to Zambia. It funded the construction of Masvingo, Marondera, Chitungwiza and Rotten Row magistrates’ courts.

Currently JSC has financial problems to the extent of failing to procure cars for Judges.

Swedish Embassy in Zimbabwe Deputy Head of Mission and SIDA country Head Berthollet Bwira Kaboru confirmed the pull out to The Mirror.

He said the pull-out is because the agency has run out of resources. Sources close to the matter however, told The Mirror that this was just diplomatic politeness adding that sections of the Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO) Amendment Bill and in particular Section 21 and 22 were so repressive that SIDA said it cannot work with partners who are subjected to such draconian laws.

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