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Bill set to scuttle MDC Alliance election plans

by Staff reporter
10 Nov 2021 at 05:32hrs | Views
THE recently gazetted Private Voluntary Organisation Amendment Bill has sent the Western-funded MDC-Alliance into panic mode and is set to scuttle the United States' plans to bankroll the opposition ahead of the 2023 elections.

Last week the Clerk of Parliament, Mr Kennedy Chokuda, gazetted the Bill that seeks to among other things penalise non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that dabble in politics and which have previously been used by the US and other Western nations to fund regime change.

Already, and ahead of the 2023 polls, the US, through USAID, had set aside US$5 million to fund NGOs under the guise of promoting the rule of law, constitutionalism and democracy.

Insiders said several NGOs aligned to the opposition are due to receive the US funding, which runs until the 2023 elections, and from where MDC-A leader Mr Nelson Chamisa was set to draw funds for his political activities.

"If the Bill becomes law we are finished. The idea was to mobilise voters for the MDC as directed by the US Embassy here.

"Our role is to take the campaign for constitutionalism and democracy to all parts of the country to rally the young people to the Alliance," said an insider in the NGOs.

Reacting to the Bill on Twitter, MDC-A secretary general Mr Chalton Hwende summed up the opposition party's frustration with the legislative move that analysts say would bring order to the country's political field, which for long has been infested by agitators of regime change for two decades now.

"Laws are being created targeted at only the MDC-A and President Nelson Chamisa, NGOs to be barred from political lobbying," Mr Hwende said in what many said was confirmation that the MDC-A has been working with Western-sponsored NGOs to carry out its activities in contravention of the country's laws.

Main opposition leader Mr Douglas Mwonzora said the country should make use of laws such as the Political Parties Finance Act to stop foreigners from funding political activism through NGOs.

"Our position is that there must be minimal interference with the work of civil society organisations, they provide the necessary checks and balances on possible government excesses. But we have laws such as the Political Parties Finance Act, which proscribes foreign funding and that has to be used," he said.

After being stripped of rights to the funding provided under the Political Parties Finance Act, the MDC-A has been relying more on its traditional funders - the West, through NGOs, to fund its projects including campaigns.

Zanu-PF chief whip Cde Pupurai Togarepi said the ruling party will swiftly pass the Bill into law to close the door on delinquent activities in the NGOs.

"We are a country of laws and NGOs should be bound by the laws of their host country unless they have hidden agendas. As for the opposition parties who have been propped up by some of those NGOs we need order. I can assure you that Parliament will approve the amendment to the Private Voluntary Organisations Act so that there is sanity in the NGOs space," he said.

Government was recently challenged to stop the US from meddling in the country's domestic affairs through brazen attacks on the country's democratic institutions and processes.

This was after bizarre calls by the US for Zimbabweans to register to vote, an undiplomatic stance that however dovetails with what the MDC-A has been pushing in recent months, itself an unsavoury nexus that exposes a foreign hand in the country domestic affairs.

Inadvertently baring its sordid motives, the US Harare embassy in a glut of micro-blogs wrote: "Voter registration numbers will help define electoral boundaries in the delimitation process. Ensure complete representation for your community! Register to vote today!"

The tweet was followed by another reading: "Your vote is your right! Register to vote at ZEC's Provincial and District Offices today".

The Bill gazetted last week seeks to amend section 10 of the principal by the insertion of the following paragraph after paragraph (e) as follows - "(e1) when any private voluntary organisation that supports or opposes any political party or candidate in a presidential, parliamentary or local government election or is a party to any breach of section 7 under Part III of the Political Parties (Finance) Act [Chapter 2:12] as a contributor of funds to a political party or candidate or otherwise shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of level twelve or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year, or both such fine or such imprisonment."

Government has in the past accused NGOs of abandoning their mandates by pursuing a political agenda in support of regime change. Apart from barring NGOs from pursuing political lobbying, the Bill's Memorandum says the amendments are also being made to comply with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations made to Zimbabwe.  

Further to this, it has also become necessary to streamline administrative procedures for private voluntary organisations to allow for efficient regulation and registration.

The FATF is an intergovernmental organisation founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 countries whose main objective is to develop policies to combat money laundering and Zimbabwe is a member.

Each member country is assessed periodically for compliance with the policies and legislation on money laundering and financing of terrorism.

Source - The Herald
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