|THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists|
to the Press Statement by NANGO of 15th August 2004 - headed: NGO Bill
2004 - A Bill that kills when Zimbabwe needs life
NANGO states the obvious that Zimbabwe is a signatory to various SADC protocols and UN Charters, "Where it confirmed its willingness to conform to the principles of accountability, good governance ad above all to facilitate the development of its citizens…"
It is being alleged by NANGO that in drafting such a Bill the Zimbabwe government is erring from the percepts of the Conventions and undertakings it made.
NANGO specifically points at particular aspects of the Bill as breaching Zimbabwe's International obligations.
NANGO also alleges that the Bill "Compromises the relationship which had developed between the government and the NGO sector with NANGO playing a facilitating role."
Hereunder are responses to specific allegations
1. RELATIONS BETWEEN NGOs AND GOVERNMENT
It is bald allegation by NANGO that the Bill undermines "the spirit of co-operation between government, NGO's, and donors for the public good…"
NANGO does not demonstrate how the Bill does the undermining
To the contrary the preamble of the Bill recites…"to provide for the registration of non-governmental organisations, to provide for an enabling environment for the operations, monitoring and regulation of all non-governmental orgarnisations…"
How that is not archieved in the Bill NANGO does not say
The position taken by NANGO can be gain-said by anyone in opposition to any piece of legislation.
The allegation lacks depth and analysis. Its supposed to be a sing son in garnering support against the Bill.
2. TRANSITIONAL MECHANISMS
NANGO states that Zimbabwe signed Conventions which call for good governance, yet NANGO is in the forefront of agitating for the existence of unlawful organisations, even under the current law.
NANGO is bemoaning the fact that "the bill seeks to shut down all existing NGO's which are currently not registered in terms of the Private Voluntary Organisations Act until such time as they would have become registered in terms of the New Act…"
NANGO is calling for bad governance where a government ignores its own legislation.
NANGO should have been advising its members to observe the law.
The stance taken by NANGO is evidently anarchist.
NANGO should not hold government to ransom over the threat of loss of jobs and other down stream prejudices. Those are the consequences of illegality.
It is those unregistered NGO's which are deviant and beyond supervision as they are not registered at all.
They need to be accountable just as much as government has to be accountable under the Conventions it signed.
3. REPRESENTATION OF NGOs ON THE NGO COUNCIL
NANGO seems to be of the view that in enacting an NGO law government has abdicated its responsibility to provide for its citizens.
Government is saying some NGO's have become so wayward that they compromise provision of services they undertake to do.
There has to be closer supervision of such institutions.
Government has to put in place supervisory mechanisms to ensure that providers of compatibility services do not short-change the public at large and that they don't compromise the government either.
An NGO Council should not be taken literally to mean a Council of or by NGOs but a Council to regulate the affairs of NGOs.
NANGO should look at the mischief which was being sought to be remedied by repealing the Private Voluntary Organisation Act and bringing in of the new Bill.
The responsibility of social protection lies with government and not with NGOs.
It looks like the NGOs want to substitute government and run policy generally.
The concern is without merit and rather patronising.
4. BANNING OF FOREIGN FUNDING FOR HUMAN RIGHTS WORK
It is clear NANGO is at sea as to the principles behind the New Bill.
The mischeif which government wants to rid is that foreign donors employing local puppets or other champion foreign values, much to the detriment of national security.
Foreign values and foreign donors dictate the pace of local NGOs on governance issues, most of which espouse policies of governments which are anti-Zimbabwe under cover of "Human Rights" and "democracy".
Governance issues have to be in the local context and there must be guarantees for that.
Foreign funded organisations and foreign organisations have demonstrated to be a threat to national security when it comes to dealing with governance issues. It is constitutional to guard national security.
5. CRIMINALISATION OF NGOs WORK
NANGO exposes its illiteracy and incompetence in comprehending issues of legality in suggesting that there are "NGOs that are currently oeprating lawfully but not yet registered as PVOs…" No wonder it calls on its membership to ignore the law.
Lawfulness of operation is premised on Registration. If an organisation which is required to be registered before it commences operation, operates without registration it is operating unlawfully.
These are the organisations which must be prosecuted and effectively barred from operating.
The statement is quite consistent with NANGO's anarchist outlook.
The purpose for registration of Organisations is for supervising, monitoring and ultimately Accountabitlity - a principle which ironically is NANGO's keystone.
Those unregistered, but operating Organisations don't have to wait for the Bill to be passed into law. They have to stop immediately and put their house in order. The Private Voluntary Organisations Act still exists.
The concerns of the Government as regards the operations of some NGOs in Zimbabwe is well documented, over the years. Some are deviant and others dabble in politics.
It is the primary responsibility of Government to maintain law and order in the country and to champion the public interest. Some NGOs persue narrow sectoral and personal interests.
The coming of this legislation should not be a surprise to NANGO or likeminded patent adversaries of government. It was love overdue.
NANGO and all NGOs are not above the law and should not hold government at ransom with the threat of ill-perceived catastrophe following the passage of the Bill.
The Bill is actually intended to ensure that social protection is guaranteed and that it does not remain in the hands of dubious players who shun accountability and responsibility.
The Bill is addressing national social concerns and Zimbabwean laws govern Zimbabwe and may not apply extra-territorially.
NANGO's advertisement is ill-conceived and misdirected, noting that it was also beamed at Mauritius.
MINISTRY OF PUBLIC
SERVICE, LABOUR AND SOCIAL WELFARE