CIVICUS Announces Results of Study on Resisting Repression

In a March 23 press release, CIVICUS, a global alliance of civil society organizations, announced the release of a study on the legislative frameworks and country practices governing civil space in Zimbabwe, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda. The study relates specifically to freedom of association, expression and assembly in these four countries, with a focus on the grave and worsening situation in Zimbabwe.

The report is part of an advocacy campaign under the Civil Society Watch programme, a CIVICUS programme aimed at actively supporting processes in different countries around the world where space for civil society organisations is variously restricted. It provides support to civil society in various countries of the world and works to ensure that an enabling legal and political climate exists for civil society to flourish.

African governments act very differently in this regard, the report claims. "At one end of the spectrum is Zimbabwe where the most flagrant and cynical manipulations of the machinery of government has been deployed to quash dissent. On the other hand the guarantees of the most laudable constitutional mechanisms, as adopted in South Africa, still require an independent judiciary and advocacy on specific policies to be maintained in order to realise enshrined ideals."

According to the report, an attempt has been made to examine the wider, especially, politically context in which the laws have been made or are applied. The study has tried to avoid the impression of creating a ranking of good governance, as that approach would not be helpful to addressing the underlying issues.

CIVICUS Secretary General Kumi Naidoo said that, "civil society activists around the world are concerned about the plight of the ordinary people of Zimbabwe. We are also deeply concerned about the civil society organisations that are struggling to address the urgent needs as a result of heightening food insecurity caused by the devastating drought in the region and the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. We appeal to the Zimbabwe government to halt implementation of recently formulated laws that prevent civil society organisations from being able to function freely and effectively."

The report was launched at CIVICUS' 5th World Assembly in Gaborone, Botswana, where more than 700 citizens from 100 countries worldwide gathered under the theme of 'working together for a just world'. The participants included civil society activists, practitioners, researchers, activists, concerned business leaders, representatives from intergovernmental organisations and government representatives, all united by a common concern to work concertedly for greater social, economic, political and civic justice worldwide.


Copies of the report "Resisting Repression: Legislative and Political Obstacles to Civic Space in Southern and Eastern Africa," are available from Roberto Wohlgemuth, CSW Associate or Rachel Irura, CSW Associate .

For more information please contact: Florence Kiff at or Tel: 24 - 25 March: (+267) 712 46600 (Cell) or from 26 March (+27) 11 833 5959

For further information on CIVICUS, see or see the dedicated World Assembly website

Eric Muragana
Communications Associate
CIVICUS:World Alliance for Citizen Participation

24 Pimm Street, corner Quinn Street
Newtown, Johannesburg, 2001
PO Box 933, Southdale, Johannesburg, 2135

Tel: + 27 11 833 5959
Cell: 083 549 1023
Fax: + 27 11 833 7997

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CIVICUS World Assembly 2004
21-25 March 2004 @ Gaborone, Botswana
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Added by Sandy on March 26, 2004