Sunday 19 February 2023


The Private Voluntary Organisation Bill, PVO Bill, has now passed the various stages of the legislative process.

It is now being cleaned up for my assent. I will sign it into law once it reaches my desk. Thereafter, Zimbabwe will enter a new era of genuine philanthropic and advocacy work, unsullied by ulterior political or financial motives. This has been our goal as Government in drafting such a law. To protect our society, specifically the needy and the vulnerable against the greed, wiles and subterfuges of the crooked, found both here at home and abroad.

NGOs as Trojan Horses

We also sought to protect and defend our sovereignty from foreign interests, which seek to take advantage of genuine need in our society to infiltrate and destabilise us. Or which seek to turn a small section of mercenaries in our midst into the proverbial Trojan Horse for attacking our sovereignty, our values and our politics. The goal was never helping the poor; the target was always challenging our sovereignty and hard-won independence under the guise of helping our less privileged.

It is regrettable that a sector meant to do good for the weak and vulnerable has over the years got infiltrated and weaponised against our nation and our people, including the very poor in whose name and for whose benefit the sector arose to serve in the first place. Any responsible Government would not stand idly by as this happened. Corrective action had to be taken to cure such mischief. It has since been taken through this enabling legislation, which now empowers Government to protect the weak and vulnerable, while fortifying our sovereignty against insidious encroachment by these hostile forces.

Genuine NGO work will be protected

Bona fide non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have nothing to fear. These will continue with their Godly work and vocation by serving the needy and the poor, thus augmenting the many safety nets which Government put in place and continues to finance for the benefit of the vulnerable and the less-privileged in our immediate communities and in our broader society. The same also holds for those involved in genuine advocacy work. The new law allows them to raise awareness and arouse the collective conscience of our society on those rights and interests we must never overlook, rights and interests we must seek to safeguard and protect at all times. Indeed, any society, ours included, is as humane and as compassionate as it treats and provides for its needy, weak and vulnerable.

Churches have been apprised

Government held several meetings with church organisations in order to allay any fears or misgivings they may have had regarding this proposed law.

Our churches have been in the forefront of doing humanitarian work. This Godly role must be nurtured, furthered and protected. To that end, governance structures envisaged by the new law for the sector will incorporate churches so they bring their honest, beneficent influence to bear on all actors.

Why PVO Bill?

What prompted Government to draft and sponsor this Bill was the deteriorating conduct of several organisations, which Government had registered in good faith and allowed to operate in our country as PVOs. In spite of the clarity of the law then, and of terms and conditions for registration, some NGOs wilfully departed from their original, founding mandates. Worse, many had become a law unto themselves, all in the name of defending and serving the poor. Others abused resources donated to assist the poor to self-enrich themselves. Accountability had broken down and fortunes were being made in the name of our poor. That was callous.

Money laundering offences

A more serious situation had also developed. Some of the NGOs were being used to launder or to clean dirty money, which would find way into our systems, thus impinging on national security and breaching international laws.

This presented a real, direct threat to our nation, including how our country was perceived and rated internationally. In this era of ever-present threat of international terrorism, this could not be ignored.

Largest number in so small a country

Our dollarised economy did not help matters. Because this sector had become veritable refuge for the deviant and wayward, and for actors with sinister motives, our country, which is relatively small both by territorial size and by population, acquired and assumed the dubious honour of having one of the largest number of NGOs. Yet little showed on the ground by way of real humanitarian work. Quite the contrary, Government’s burden in carrying and looking after the poor, the vulnerable, the ailing and the unemployed, grew and multiplied. Inevitably, Government started asking very pertinent and penetrating questions. Sunday Mail


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