Zimbabwe: Non-governmental Organisations Bill, H. B. 13, 2004



This Bill will repeal the Private Voluntary Organisations Act and establish a new non-governmental organisations Act which will provide for an enabling environment for the operations, monitoring and regulation of all non-governmental organisations.

In more detail, the individual parts of the Bill are as follows:

Part I

Clause 1 sets out the Bill's short title. Clause 2 defines the terms that are used throughout this Bill.

Part II

Clause 3 will establish a non-governmental organisations Council. Functions of the non-governmental organisations Council are outlined in clause 4. Clause 5, 6 and 7 will regulate matters related to funds of the Council, financial year of Council and accounts of, and audit of accounts of Council funds. Clause 8 will provide for the appointment of a Registrar of non-governmental organisations.

Part III

This Part deals with matters related to the registration of non-governmental organisations (clause 9 and 10). Clause 11 will deal with the cancellation or amendment of certificates. Clause 12 will require every non-governmental organisation to carry out its activities under its registered name.

Clause 13 will allow the director of a registered non-governmental organisation to surrender the certificate of registration. The director will also be able to apply for a new certificate of registration in the event that the old certificate was cancelled or surrendered (clause 14).

Any non-governmental organisation which is aggrieved by any decision of the Council in relation to the rejection of an application for registration may appeal to the Minister (clause 15).

Part IV

This Part provides for the administration of non-governmental organisations. Clause 16 provides for the need for every director of a registered non-governmental organisation to produce reports and returns at the end of each financial year. Clause 17 will regulate funding for local non-governmental organisations. No local (NGO) shall receive any foreign funding or donation to carry out activities involving or including governance issues.

Clause 18 will require every registered (NGO) to have a registered address in Zimbabwe. A registered non-governmental organisation may also establish branch committees where the organisation may delegate some of its activities (clause 19). Clause 20 will empower the Registrar to determine that any branch of a non-governmental organisation shall not be subject to the control and direction of that non-governmental organisation and make it an independent and separate non-governmental organisation. Clause 21 will provide for audit of accounts of a non-governmental organisation. Clause 22 will give the Minister power to appoint an officer to inspect any aspect of the affairs or activities of any non-governmental organisation.

Part V

Clause 23 will give the Council power to investigate maladministration in non-governmental organisations. If the Council finds that there has been maladministration in an organisation, the Council will be empowered to censure the persons responsible for it, or to direct the taking of measures to prevent its recurrence, or to cancel or amend the organisation's registration. Under the clause, the Council will have to act fairly when conducting investigations i.e. it will have to give everyone concerned an opportunity to be heard and also will have the right to be furnished with reasons on the Council's decision.

Any person affected by the decision of the Council is entitled to appeal to Minister if he is not satisfied by that decision. Clause 24 will set out the procedure to be followed when the Council has referred a question of suspending an organisation's committee members to the Minister. The Minister will be obliged to conduct any necessary investigations and if in the Minister's opinion there has been serious maladministration and it is in the public interest for all or any of the organisation's committee members to be suspended, the Minister will have power to suspend them. Before doing so, however the Minister will have to give the committee members concerned a reasonable opportunity to make representations.

Committee members who have been under suspension for 30 days will automatically go out of office.

If all committee members of a non-governmental organisation have been suspended, the Minister will have power to appoint trustees to manage the organisation's affairs pending the election of a new committee.

Clause 25 will empower the Registrar to adjudicate disputes within non-governmental organisations.

Clause 26 will provide for general offences and penalties and will specify the penalties that may be imposed on persons who commit them.

Clause 27 will provide for the evidential provisions. Under this clause a certificate from the Registrar stating whether or not an organisation is registered under the Act will be admissible in any proceedings, civil or criminal, at present such certificates are admissible only in criminal proceedings. Clause 28 regulates how contributions unlawfully collected are to be utilised.

Clause 29 will empower the Minister to dissolve the organisation if the organisation ceases to function and the persons responsible in terms of its constitution for dissolving the organisation fail or are unable to dissolve it within six months. In Clause 30 the Minister may direct any person holding or having control of any money collected contrary to this Act, to retain to either the contributor or to the Minister and thereupon the Minister will later return the money to every contributor known. Clause 31 will empower the Minister to make regulations with regard to the form, of any application, authority, certificate, notice, order or register to be made. Clause 32 will validate the lawful registration of private voluntary organisations which was done under the repealed Act to be registration under this new Act. Clause 33 will repeal the Private Voluntary Organisations Act [Chapter 17:05] and save any statutory instruments which were in force under the repealed Act.

The Schedule contains provisions applicable to Council Members.

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