PVO Bill is what Zimbabwe needs now

by | Mar 11, 2022 | International, Local News | 0 comments

PVO Bill is what Zimbabwe needs now

Hosia Mviringi

“A dual Russian-American citizen has been charged with acting as a spy in the US, according to court filings that say she ran organizations that sought to spread Russian propaganda.”

“Elena Branson was charged Tuesday with acting and conspiring to act in the US illegally as an agent of the Russian government, willfully failing to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, conspiring to commit visa fraud and making false statements to the FBI, according to a criminal complaint.”

The complaint alleges that Branson fled to Russia in 2020.

“From at least 2011, Branson worked on behalf of the Russian government and Russian officials to advance Russian interests in the US, the complaint says. Prosecutors allege she coordinated meetings for Russian officials to lobby US political officials and businesspeople, and operated organizations to publicly promote Russian government policies.”

This is an extract from an online edition of the American News site Cable News Network (CNN) which is a mirror reflection of the domestic policy of the American establishment which is strictly anti-interference and anti-foreign meddling.


In the CNN story which is accessible online at;

https://edition.cnn.com/2022/03/08/politics/elena-branson-russian-american-spy-charged/index.html?,the US uncompromising policy against foreign infiltration or influence is on display for all to see.

Indeed, it is a policy that seeks to entrench and uphold national sovereignty, territorial integrity and the sanctity of self-determination.

It is a confirmation of the US internal policy to determine who operates on their territory and on what and whose terms.

In this case, the US, as should be the case with any other sovereign state, sets its own rules and enforces them in the book.

The Zimbabwean PVO Bill which is currently undergoing the consultation phase to determine its suitability and acceptability to the people has come under immense attack from the same Non-Governmental Organisation (NGOs), call them Anti-Governmental Organisations (AGOs) because apparently, they have a self-appointed role to oppose the government.


One of the attributes of the PVO Bill is its insistence on Civil Society Organisations to register with the government of Zimbabwe, only after which they get a license to operate.

The registration and licencing of CSOs is the only way that the government of Zimbabwe can have a track of who is operating in Zimbabwe.

The PVO Act provides for the registration and regulation of private voluntary organisations whose objectives broadly include providing for people’s physical, mental and social needs, rendering charitable aid for animal welfare and collecting contributions for such objectives.

But isn’t it only logical that if one collects or solicits for funding for certain objectives, they deploy such funds for the same?

What really is bad asking someone to spend money for the purposes they raised it?

Many NGOs In Zimbabwe have in recent years clashed with their sponsors for diverting money from their core objectives to personal use.

In 2018 the Unitted States International Aid (USAid) terminated funding contracts with three Zimbabwe based NGOs namely the Elections Resource Centre, Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), and Counselling Services Unit (CSU) for gross abuse of funds and corruption.

The matter was reported to USAid office of the Inspector-General to investigate fraud and abuse of finds in their programmes in Zimbabwe.

US Embassy acting public relations officer John Taylor was quoted in a local daily as saying: “We can confirm allegations of misuse of US funding by local Zimbabwean partners… Attempts to divert US funds from their intended use are unacceptable under any circumstances”.

ERC and ZimRights are advocates for free and fair elections and human rights, for them to be accused of corruption and abuse of public funds is a new low.

When money that is meant for public use is diverted for any other use, government naturally takes interest.

It is the responsible thing to do.

This the need to enact laws that empower government to intervene and investigate for purposes of prosecuting such culprits.

In 2019, Amnesty International Zimbabwe closed on allegations of fraud and abuse of public funds.

The human rights group reported the matter to the Zimbabwe Republic Police for joint investigations.

However, in the absence of a legal framework to prosecute the culprits, such investigations are rendered useless.


Terms of licencing will determine whether a CSO is entitled to certain activities.

Regrettably, CSOs in Zimbabwe, who have enjoyed a free reign for a long time now, are beginning to feel the heat as the conditions of licensing will most likely tie them down to certain activities while criminalising certain activities that do not conform to its license conditions.

Licensing conditions such as disclosure of funding sources and periodic audits will eliminate cases of public funds abuse and promote transparency and effective deployment of funds.

Perhaps it is time to take a step back and ask, what is bad with operating within the confines of the law?

In any case, the same NGOs have in the past sponsored programs whose reports have projected Zimbabwe as a lawless society, are the same that are coming out guns blazing against the enactment if a protective and regulatory law. Hypocricy personified!

How can a society be lawful when no laws exist at all?

Among the provisions of the proposed PVO Bill is a requirement that a prospective NGO should provide their area of interest and list such activities they would want to undertake during their tenure in Zimbabwe.

One wonders how this requirement can be termed ‘a threat to democracy, as the US Embassy in Harare has described the Bill, as yet another unwarranted attack on the Bill.

Yet it is also important to note that the latest amendments to the original Act are a result of concerns raised by government and other international agencies such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on money laundering and financing of terrorist activities worldwide on the need to account for all financial flows into the country.

It is important to also note that for a long time since independence, NGOs in Zimbabwe have operated clandestinely without anyone being able to lift the lid on their funding structure and their expenditure patterns, a scenario that has opened the gates to abuse of funds and subsequent financing of clandestine activities which to some extent have amounted to national security interest areas.

The NGO sector in Zimbabwe has engaged in panic mode following the tabulation of the Private Voluntary Organisations Bill which subjects them to scrutiny in the way they fund and utilise their resources.

Most NGOs in Zimbabwe have made it their core duty to call on the government to account for how it uses public funds, something that should be applauded.

However, it is equally important for such PVO’s to live their word and live by the same standard as they demand on government.

Any funds that flow into the country must be treated as public funds as they are raised on the justification of a public need.

It, therefore, becomes a matter of public interest to know how much money is used.

Financial accountability should be a standard measure applicable to all entities, both in the public and private sectors.

One of the biggest questions that the NGO sector has been asking is Why regulate NGOs. Yet it is the same question that they must answer, Why not be regulated?

Why does the Civic Society in Zimbabwe prefer operating in the dark?

Why would they prefer operating under the veil of secrecy when all they demand on others is strict transparency and accountability?

It is indeed a sad day when such international organisations such as Transparency International who thrive on a universal call for transparency and a fight against corruption and abuse of public trust, become a leading voice in opposing transparency and promoting private corruption.


The United States International Aid (USAid), which funds almost all anti-government civic society organisations in Zimbabwe, even after itself having cried aloud against abuse of its funds by NGOs in Zimbabwe, is today sponsoring resistence against a logical law that seeks to put safety nets and benchmarks to ethical conduct by NGOs in Zimbabwe.

But it is not surprising that the USAid, through the US Embassy in not only Harare is sponsoring such resistance, but is actually threatening the government of Zimbabwe against enacting the law.

To those in the know, the US Embassy has for a long time fronted bogus NGOs to carry out clandestine anti-state activities that include but not limited to sonsoring opposition parties, funding propaganda activities against Zimbabwe, sponsoring anti-government activists such as Dr Magombeyi, Hopewell Chin’ono and many others, and also In other extreme cases using such funds to sponsor anti-government violent protests.

This has been possible because funding and deployment of resources by NGOs had largely gone without scrutiny.

Given the latest case in point where the US Government, only yesterday deported a Russian-American for “acting like a Russian spy”, would it be too far fetched to say that the PVO Bill is exactly what the Doctor ordered for Zimbabwe?