Government tightens screws on NGOs

BY XOLISANI NCUBE

Government is tightening requirements for registration of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to, ostensibly prevent money-laundering and funding of terrorist activities.

Briefing journalists at a post-Cabinet meeting yesterday, acting Information and Broadcasting Services minister Sekai Nzenza (pictured), who is also in charge of the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare portfolio, said the move was in compliance with the financial action taskforce (FATF) on combating money-laundering and financing of terrorism by individuals and institutions.

“More specifically, the amendment seeks to ensure that private voluntary organisations in Zimbabwe are not used as conduits for money-laundering and funding of terrorist activities while seeking to bring about efficiency in the registration and regulation of the same,” Nzenza said.

Although the minister said in Zimbabwe, no acts of terrorism had been committed by any NGOs, the ruling Zanu PF party has often accused the organisations of funding and propagating a regime change agenda.

This has seen a number of NGOs  in the human rights and democracy space being banned in some areas and their officials arrested with some charged with treason.

Nzenza said the proposed law would demand that at registration, the NGOs should reveal targeted beneficiaries of their work, funders and make it criminal any attempt to falsify information.

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said Zimbabwe risked censure if it did not comply with the FAFT requirements.

“This is a very serious issue, the issue of terrorism is very serious the world over and we have to comply,” Ncube said.

Cabinet also resolved that the Industrial Development Corporation resumes its role of being a lender on infrastructural projects and that a seed capital of $30 million be immediately released to the industrial development fund.

Nzenza said Cabinet also discussed the Battlefields mine disaster and Mines and Mining Development minister Winston Chitando said the last two bodies that were still trapped in one of the shafts mine were retrieved yesterday.

She said Cabinet also discussed the prospects of the 2018/2019 agriculture season which look bleak and tasked Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri to undertake a crop and livestock assessment to evaluate the state of the impending disaster.

On the health sector,  Cabinet resolved to investigate the cause of fire outbreaks at government hospitals and also agreed to undertake targeted refurbishment of strategic public hospitals throughout the country.

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