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NGO Bill - Index of Opinion and Analysis
Govt confirms probe into NGO activities, funding
- The Zimbabwean government has confirmed that an inter-ministerial
team that includes members of the Central Intelligence Organisation,
the state security organ, are probing the activities of local and
foreign NGOs operating in the country.
admission came as reports emerged that the teams had visited over
15 NGOs since the beginning of last month.
an alert issued by the National Association of Non-Governmental
Organisations (NANGO) the teams were "examining all documents relating
to financial affairs, expenditure, sources of funding and a verification
of the activities implemented on the ground."
Labour and Social Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche told IRIN that
the teams, which include state security operatives and officials
from other line ministries, began their investigation last month.
He said they
were appointed in terms of the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO)
Act and were charged with carrying out a "routine audit" of NGO
activities and accounts, including checking on their compliance
to their stated objectives and activities.
a target of the probe, alleged that the government could be looking
for excuses to close down some NGOs as soon as President Robert
Mugabe signs a controversial NGO Bill into law.
The bill, which
will ban the activities of organisations involved in human rights
and civic education campaign, also outlaws foreign funding of NGOs.
It would also subject NGOs to strict vetting by a committee appointed
by the government, with minimal NGO representation.
The audit teams
are also reported to be examining the constitution of the boards
of NGOs, reviewing documents relating to the registration of NGOs
and the implementation of their stated objectives.
NANGO, they are also interested in the source of funding, how the
money was changed into local currency and whether it was used for
purposes indicated on the organisations schedule of activities.
"The raids could
be a vindictive and punitive response to what has been termed as
subversive activities of NGOs," NANGO said in a statement.
the government has repeatedly accused local and international NGOs
in the country of being conduits for western funds aimed at supporting
opposition groups and other 'anti-government elements'.
Minister Didymus Mutasa said although he was not aware of the ongoing
probe, it would be incorrect to say the raids were politically motivated.
"I don't know
about the involvement of my ministry. If we are, then it could be
a routine investigation. It is true that some NGOs in this country
have been used as fronts to fund pro-Western subversive activities.
Some have been peddling foreign currency on the black market, thereby
grossly undermining national recovery programmes," Mutasa said.
it not normal for any law-governed country to check that everyone,
including foreign organisations, abide by the laws? Those organisations
that know they are clean need not worry when the law comes around,"
Some of the
15 organisations that have so far been visited by audit teams include
NANGO, World Vision, Zimrights and the Farm Orphan Support Trust.
Representatives of various other organisations in Bulawayo and Harare
confirmed being visited by the audit teams but refused to give details.
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