GOOD day dear readers. I trust that you are well and that the week has been a good one for you.
In last week’s article I started the first of a three part series of articles where I am analysing and responding to an advertisement that was put through by an NGO body called the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisation (NANGO), which is the so-called umbrella body for civil society organisations in Zimbabwe.
They put out an advertisement for a consultant to help review the PVO Bill.
For the sake of refreshment of memory, the PVO Bill is the proposal that was put to Parliament to consider in relation to the registration of non-governmental organisations.
The Bill was never passed and to date is in draft form and for NGOs such a form feels like an axe hanging over their head.
It had information pertaining to monitoring of NGO activities including mandatory accountability in the form of submission of audit results to the Government.
It was widely contested more so by the civil society itself as it feared that such a Bill would make them fail in “monitoring and keeping the Zimbabwean Government accountable”.
This week I will be responding to the first part of the advert which I have typed out below to refresh your memory:
Non-Governmental Organisations in Zimbabwe are governed by the Private Voluntary Organisation Act, known also as the PVO. NGOs have repeatedly faced legislative restrictions because of demanding human rights reforms in Zimbabwe.
NGOs have dealt with administrative interference, restrictions in registration and harassment. The PVO Amendment Bill seeks to introduce more regulation of CSOs and to continue to curtail the operational space of CSOs.
There is therefore a need for CSOs to develop and provide an alternative PVO Amendment Bill, which would address the issues of self-regulation, and also registration through the restructuring of the PVO Board.
The NGO PVO Amendment Bill focuses on the independence of the PVO Board and the removal of supervisory powers from the State introducing a self-regulatory mechanism.
As I read these dear readers, I could not help but be very angry.
The very audacity of NANGO to flight such an advert was an insult to the sovereignty of Zimbabwe as a country.
First and foremost , the very fact that such an advert could fly shows that there is democracy in this country.
I do remember especially during the pre-election period, just how much freedom was there especially for NGOs.
They held meetings and went into the field to inform people about their right to vote and so forth.
They were even allowed as NGOs to participate as observers but now after the elections, NGOs are busy joining forces and wanting to be drama queens.
Drama queens in the sense that they need more funding and they need to justify their continued existence hence the flight of such adverts that want to paint this so-called bleak picture of what NGOs are supposedly facing which is not true at all.
In Zimbabwe an NGO can currently register using two ways. Either as a Trust or as a Private Voluntary Organisation.
Most NGOs prefer the former because it is the easiest and it just costs $50 to register whereas the latter takes time and a lot of vetting before an organisation can be registered.
The reason why the Private Voluntary Organisation Act came into force in the first place was for the Government to really know just how many organisations were operating in the country, how they were operating, where their funding was coming from and what role they are playing in the country.
I find this dear readers as something that is not only very democratic but also dutiful.
The Government of Zimbabwe needs to know who is doing what where, how and for what motive for the purpose of harmonising efforts.
Right now, there is just an estimate of how many organisations are in the country since most organisations do not even want to be known.
They want to stay underneath the radar to dodge things such as tax which is one way of raising revenue in a country that has been battered and tormented by sanctions, droughts and the occasional back stabbing from these so-called NGOs.
If really there was no space for operation all NGOs would have been closed by now.
This advert is nothing but a fundraising technique as well as a smear campaign mechanism to try and get remorse.
How I wish that it were only that, from the contents of the first part of the advert one can deduce that CSOs do not want to be accountable to anyone, but rather are demanding for autonomy and freedom.
I have one big question for this sector, what is it that they are trying to hide? It can only be the guilty who want independence to cover their tracks and hide their sin.
We will continue next week dear readers as we analyse and round up the third part. In the mean time, let us continue to question and to demand for accountability from all NGOs that are operating in our communities!