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NGO Bill - Index of Opinion and Analysis
legislation won’t affect churches — Secretary
The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe)
July 25, 2004
Organisations Bill, which will soon be tabled before Parliament
for debate, seeks to govern the operations of NGOs only and will
not affect churches, a senior Government official has said.
The announcement follows the misconception that the proposed legislation
would give Government powers to strictly monitor the operations
Church leaders had raised concern that the proposed law would infringe
on their right to worship, further arguing that they would be better
off regulating themselves.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour
and Social Welfare, Cde Lancester Museka, told The Sunday Mail yesterday
that churches were not subject to the Bill since they were meant
for worship, adding that the Government had never presided over
the religious bodies.
Cde Museka said only a few churches had been registered under the
Social Welfare Department in order for them to be able to collect
funds for charity.
He pointed out that it was due to this fact that many people mistakenly
thought that the Bill would incorporate churches.
"Churches will not be included in the Bill — they will be left out
"We have never governed churches before and this is not the purpose
of the proposed legislation either.
"It was a misconception from the beginning to suggest that the Bill
would also incorporate church organisations.
"The Bill, however, seeks to govern the operations of NGOs that
carry out activities in the country. The business of NGOs is to
support Government activities throughout the country," said Cde
Government recently announced its intention to introduce the Non-Governmental
Organisations Bill to regularise the operations of NGOs after allegations
were made that the organisations were engaging in politics.
If passed into law, the Bill would give the State powers to screen
NGOs wishing to operate in the country and those already operating.
Officially opening the Fifth Session of the Fifth Parliament of
Zimbabwe last week, President Mugabe said the Bill would be introduced
during the session to repeal the Private Voluntary Organisations
He also said the Bill provides for the enactment of a new law under
which a Non-Governmental Organisations Council would be constituted.
The council’s thrust will be to ensure rationalisation of the macro-management
of all NGOs, he said.
"Non-governmental organisations must work for the betterment of
our country and not against it. We cannot allow them to be conduits
or instruments of foreign interference in our national affairs,"
said Cde Mugabe.
Cde Museka reiterated that it was important for NGOs to be registered
with the ministry to enable the authorities to monitor whether the
organisations were operating within their mandates.
It is also understood that NGOs are supposed to be registered for
them to be accountable for public and donor funds.
Cde Museka highlighted that the organisations that had responded
to an earlier Government directive to be registered in terms of
the Private Voluntary Organisations Act had so far submitted satisfactory
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