The Herald (Harare)
March 8, 2005
Posted to the web March 8, 2005
AT least 30 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have allegedly failed to account for more than US$88 million mobilised through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) after the Government made a consolidated appeal to the international community for humanitarian assistance in 2003.
The Government has since written to the NGOs giving them March 11 as the deadline by which they should have accounted for the money or face appropriate action under the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Act.
The US$88,7 million was mobilised through the NGOs after international donors had put in a condition that the money should not be handled by the Government.
But the money is deemed public funds because it was raised on behalf of the Government and the people of Zimbabwe.
Sources said the Government had approached the UNDP to inquire about the total amount that had been raised after the consolidated appeal to the international community.
It was advised that US$88,718,202 had been received and had been brought into the country.
"As you may notice on the attached schedule, donors continue to respond generously in providing assistance to the social sector in line with the identified humanitarian needs in the country," said the then UNDP resident representative, Mr Victor Angelo, in a letter to Cde Mangwana dated October 20 2004.
"The funding proposals in the social sector in January 2004 included nutrition and targeted feeding, education, health, child protection, HIV/Aids, water and sanitation, agriculture, mobile and vulnerable population and co-ordination."
According to the schedule sent to Cde Mangwana, the funding proposals for the prioritised sectors amounted to US$95.5 million.
But by July 2004, the records indicated that the resources that had been provided by the donors to the United Nations agencies and the NGOs, excluding food aid, totalled US$88,718,202 between July 2003 and October 2004.
In December, Cde Mangwana wrote to the 36 NGOs asking them to account for the money or face appropriate action, but only six managed to do so.
The rest failed while some were closing shop and their expatriate directors were leaving the country.
Under the PVO Act, the minister can either suspend, launch an investigation into the operations of an NGO or prosecute the offending organisation or its directors for abusing public funds.
Some of the NGOs that the minister wrote to are German Agro Action, World Vision, Goal, Help, Africare, Care, PSI, Advance Africa, Family Health, FGI/Zapa, DHS, CRS Strive, IAA, JSI, Dai/Lead, Save the Children, Swedish Co-operation Centre, Fost and Sahrit.
Sources said the money never reached the Reserve Bank and there were fears that some of it could have been channelled to the MDC or sold on the black market.
Cde Mangwana was this week expected to meet with the UNDP resident representative over the issue.
The allegations of donor fund abuse by NGOs have come a few months after the Non-Governmental Organisations Bill, which will control the operations of NGOs, was passed by Parliament last December.
The Bill seeks to provide for an enabling environment for the operations, monitoring and regulation of NGOs.
Defending the Bill in Parliament last year, Cde Mangwana said NGOs must be regulated to ensure they are accountable.
He said some individuals had set up NGOs for purely selfish ends like personal gain and would naturally be averse to accountability.