NGOs warned against unregistered foreign partners

23 Jun, 2024 - 00:06 0 Views
NGOs warned against  unregistered foreign partners

The Sunday Mail

Sunday Mail Reporter

THE Carter Centre, an international non-governmental organisation that monitors and observes elections, was recently de-registered by the Government, but is now reportedly mulling forging an alliance with the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) to continue its activities in Zimbabwe.

However, the Government has since warned that such a partnership would be illegal.

Foreign organisations that work in Zimbabwe fall under the purview of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Affairs, and are registered under the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.

However, once the foreign organisation is de-registered, it cannot work or partner any local organisation registered in Zimbabwe.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet (Presidential Communications) Mr George Charamba advised local organisations to thoroughly check with the relevant authorities before working with foreign organisations.

“Foreign organisations who get involved in Zimbabwe immediately fall under three key departments of State. Officially, they fall under Foreign Affairs to the extent that these are external actors who want to have a relationship with Zimbabwe,” Mr Charamba said.

“But of course, beyond it, and if they want to establish themselves, they also have to register as voluntary organisations with the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare. And then of course, in the process of interacting with Foreign Affairs, as well as Labour, there are certain security checks that we bring into to make sure that we are dealing with bona fide organisations.”

Any local organisation that works with a de-registered institution, he said, is in breach of national security laws.

“So, really, the Government of Zimbabwe reserves the right to admit into Zimbabwean territory an organisation or to bar it from participating or establishing itself in the country. So, what I want to appeal to and advise all local partners of external organisations is that before they go into any relationship whatsoever with a foreign organisation, they must check strictly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (and International Trade) to make sure that that organisation has been cleared by Government to have a presence in the country,” Mr Charamba added.

“They must also check with the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to ensure that that organisation has in fact been registered as a voluntary organisation.

“Failure to do that would then create a situation where an NGO, which is probably well-meaning, will end up connecting with an organisation which is barred from a presence or participation in Zimbabwe. And once that happens, it means that’s a breach of national interest, national security and national policy. And of course that means that particular NGO will be at odds with the Government.

“So, really, my fervent appeal to all NGOs is to make sure that they cross-check before they jump into bed with any NGO.”

He also said local entities that get assistance from foreign organisations should first enquire about the external firms’ work permit status with the relevant authorities before forming any partnerships.

In an interview yesterday, ZESN executive director Ms Rindai Chipfunde-Vava denied her organisation was currently working with the Carter Centre.

“We only met with them when they came to observe the elections. We met with them just like any other observer missions that were in Zimbabwe during that time,” she said.

“That was the last time we met, and we are not currently working with them.”

The Carter Centre and other Western-aligned foreign observer missions were last year accused by the Government of coming with a predetermined assessment of the harmonised elections.

The adverse reports were curiously in sync with the controversial preliminary report produced by Dr Nevers Mumba, who led the SADC Electoral Observer Mission.

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