The move by global financial crime watchdog, the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) to remove Zimbabwe from its watch list, is further proof that government’s Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Amendment Bill is unnecessary authoritarianism.
FATF put Zimbabwe on its “grey list” in October last year following concerns that the country’s financial systems did not have enough safeguards to detect the flow of dirty money.
On Friday, the FATF announced that it was removing Zimbabwe from the list after satisfying itself that the country’s financial regulating systems were now compliant.
The announcement came at a time when Parliament is conducting hearings into the contentious PVO Ammmendment where the ruling Zanu PF party is showing determination to railroad the contentious proposed law.
Zanu PF has a bone to chew with civic society organisations, which are the targets of this Bill, because it believes they are conduits of Western money to support the opposition.
The position is, however, difficult to sustain because as ordinary Zimbabweans will attest to it, non-governmental ogranisations are playing a very important role in driving development in areas where the State is virtually absent.
In countries where leaders are not afraid of their shadows, NGOs are recognised for their role in fostering sustainable development.
Since the turn of the millennium, a large portion of Zimbabwe’s population has been heavily reliant on NGOs for survival because of the country’s inability to produce enough food to feed its citizens.
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As a result of the poor performance of the economy in the last two decades, NGOs have been filling the void left by central government in providing basic needs such as water, education, sanitation and health services.
Civic society also plays a major role in educating citizens about their rights and promoting cohesion in society.
These are some of the many reasons why government’s push to shut down NGOs flies in the face of logic.
Since the major excuse given for the crafting of the Bill, which was to provide safeguards against Zimbabwe’s financial systems being used to fund terrorism has been removed, the only prudent thing to do now is to abandon the proposed law.
Zimbabweans that have been given an opportunity to speak at the public hearings where Zanu PF is employing its old tactics to silence critical voices are clear that they do not want the proposed law because it threatens their livelihoods.
The government must listen to the citizens and change course because the PVO Amendment Bill is draconian and an assault on the fragile Zimbabwean economy.