HomeBusiness DigestNGOs fret over Bill, engage RBZ

NGOs fret over Bill, engage RBZ

Conrad Dube

ZIMBABWEAN non-governmental organisations (NGO) plan to meet Reserve Bank officials to wring concessions over crucial foreign funding amidst financial constraints in the sect


The 3 000-strong NGOs, earning a cumulative US$300 million per calendar year, are a target of draconian civil sector-reform laws which curb acceptance of programme-linked monies from abroad.

National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (Nango) national coordinator Jacob Mafume confirmed the latest moves to enlist the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) in fighting the NGO Bill and particularly its Section 17.

“We are now trying to engage the Reserve Bank through various forums,” Mafume told businessdigest in Harare this week.

In conceding little success with Paul Mangwana’s Labour and Welfare ministry regarding the NGO Bill debate, Mafume said they were still to approach Gideon Gono’s institution.

“We do not have a result as yet,” he said.

Apart from fighting the funding aspect which outlaws monetary gains from outside, the NGO community is also battling the general outlook of the draft law – one of the many legislative shackles mooted by President Robert Mugabe’s under-fire government.

With international community-led pressure and scrutiny bearing on Harare over its poor democracy record, NGOs and their foreign funders have been singled out for close scrutiny for allegedly working with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change to effect so-called regime change in Zimbabwe.

So far NGOs have been handed smaller concessions in the form of “streamlined” and more defined terms surrounding the contentious issue of human rights.

The draft law, set to replace the Voluntary Organisations Act, has already passed through parliament’s first reading. It asserts state powers over registration and vetting of NGOs as well as seizure of all foreign-originating money for NGOs.

This will be achieved through mandatory investigations into sources of funding and ceding of such proceeds, securities or property into a Guardian’s Fund, with the NGO being dissolved.

As a result of the high-handed law, several NGOs face closure and many have already terminated their contracts in the country.

Such organisations as Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Human Rights Trust of Southern Africa, Transparency International, and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights face forcible closures.

Civic groups dealing with media rights and advocacy issues are not classified under NGOs.

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