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NGO Bill - Index of Opinion and Analysis
craft code of ethics
The Financial Gazette (Zimbabwe)
October 14, 2004
non-governmental sector, jittery over a restrictive law the government
has tabled in parliament to monitor its operations, has crafted
a code of ethics as an eleventh-hour attempt to avert the impending
mechanism, adopted at the weekend by about 400 members of the National
Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO), seeks to
ensure accountability, transparency and good governance among members.
"We, the NGOs operating in Zimbabwe recognise and affirm our commitment
to be transparent in our actions and to be accountable to the public
we serve, the government and donors. We reaffirm our commitment
to attaining the highest possible standards and our recognition
of the need for self-regulation," reads part of the preamble of
the Zimbabwe NGO Code of Ethics.
According to a draft made available to The Financial Gazette this
week, the code of ethics would enable NGOs in the country to respond
to "challenges that are constantly changing and arising".
An NGO representative body would oversee the implementation of the
code, working closely with the NGO Council and Registration Committee.
The draft adds that the NGO representative body would ensure that
NGOs avoided "conflict of interest between NGO leadership and staff
in their political and NGO interests."
The NGO sector envisaged code of ethics comes after the crafting
of the controversial NGO Bill that seeks to vet, register and monitor
the operations of NGOs in Zimbabwe. It is expected to sail through
parliament — in which the ruling ZANU PF has an overwhelming majority
— in the next few weeks.
The proposed law, viewed as draconian and in the same league with
the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA),
a restrictive media law that has been used to close three independent
newspapers, also outlaws foreign funding of NGOs involved in human
rights and governance issues.
"Self-regulation is more desirable than government regulation,"
Fambai Ngirande, an information officer at NANGO, told The Financial
Gazette. "We have come up with a code of ethics to show the government
that we are capable of regulating ourselves as the NGO sector.
"The government does not have the capacity to ensure that the NGOs
maintain best practices. We believe it is the players in the NGO
sector that can play a role in making NGOs more professional," said
"We are trying to move away from the political realm. We believe
if the government is the one that regulates the sector, the NGOs
will end up being partisan. It should not be the government that
sets standards but NGOs because they know the industry and its needs,"
However, other players in the sector — which analysts claim would
throw into the streets about 10 000 employees if the Bill is passed
in its present form — believe the self-regulatory proposals have
come too late to coax the government from passing the law.
The government, long buffeted by accusations of a serious democracy
deficit, claims some NGOs are being used as proxies by Western countries
to effect regime change in Zimbabwe, charges the NGO sector denies.
Some independent observers however believe that government has a
compelling case against some of the NGOs.
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