By Leopold Munhende
GOVERNMENT has announced it will start spying on civil society organisations’ bank accounts, in what it claims is aimed at plugging loopholes and stop the financing terrorism in the country.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa like his predecessor former President Robert Mugabe has accused non-governmental organisations of being regime change agents.
The President told a Zanu PF rally in Masvingo last month that he would deal with doctors who had assisted wounded protestors after the violent riots in January that left 17 people dead. A stay-away called by labour federation the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) turned into an orgy of violence with opposition party activists at the forefront.
The military was accused of a brutal crackdown during after the protests leading to the deaths.
Acting Information minister Sekai Nzenza Thursday, told journalists at a post-Cabinet briefing that the move to snoop on the finances of civil society groups would result in amendments to the Private Voluntary Organisations Act (PVO).
“Cabinet received a presentation from the Ministry of Labour to amend the PVO Act in order to render it compliant with the requirements of the Financial Action Taskforce on combating money laundering and financing of terrorism by individuals and institutions
“More specifically the amendment seeks to ensure that PVOs are not used as conduits for money laundering and funding of terrorist activities while seeking to bring about efficiency in the registration and regulation of the same,” said Nzenza.
“At registration of the PVOs all essential information regarding the beneficiaries, ownership and interest in a PVO shall be disclosed to authorities. Where the beneficiary, ownership and interest is not disclosed registration will be declined.”
Nzenza’s statement follows government claims that non-governmental-organisations such as the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) in cahoots with the opposition MDC and ZCTU financed the violent protests in January.
Government according to Nzenza will also criminalise falsification of information regarding the registration of PVOs under which non-governmental organisations and majority of civil society as well as human rights organisations fall.
Already CiCZ chairperson Rashid Mahiya is facing trial for attempting to subvert a constitutionally elected government under the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act in a case related to the January protests. The State has also charged Harare cleric Evan Mawarire and ZCTU president Peter Mutasa with attempting to overthrow President Mnangagwa’s administration.
The MDC MPs, Joana Mamombe and Charlton Hwende have also been dragged before the courts on similar charges.
State media has reported that it has documents to support government claims that there had been meetings between members of CCiZ and foreign nationals that planned the January protests.
Earlier this year the Zimbabwean government is reported to have presented a paper to the African Union (AU) titled ‘Brief on the political and security situation in Zimbabwe in the aftermath of the 14th to 16th January violent protests.”
The report fingered civil society groups, the MDC and what it said were hostile non-governmental organisations as key proponents of the protests that have been interpreted as part of a Western funded regime change agenda.
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube defended the decision adding terrorism is a global issue which if not followed through would result in Zimbabwe being sanctioned.
“This thinking around that we follow the money to make sure that there is no financing of terrorism is a global issue…if Zimbabwe does not comply it will be sanctioned globally.
“This is compliance right across our economy, here we are just highlighting issues around PVOs that they also need to comply,” said Ncube.
Sources claim the Citizens Manifesto, #GenerationalConseus, ZCTU, #Tajamuka, #Occupy Africa Unity Square, #ThisFlag fronted by Mawarire, Concerned Agenda and the MDC are some of the organisations accused by the State of financing chaos within the country.