The Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO) Amendment Bill, will be used to strengthen the supervision and formalisation of nutritional gardens carried out by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in communities, CITE has learnt.
This comes after some government officials claimed these nutritional gardens have failed to produce tangible results and called for strict monitoring of projects implemented by development agencies.
The PVO Amendment Bill provides the government with unfettered discretionary powers, which critics describe as over-regulation and interference in NGOs’ governance and operation systems.
Provisions of the PVO Bill also provide authorities with unchecked power to revoke NGO’s PVO registration and remove or replace its leadership if they designate them as “high risk” or “vulnerable” to terrorism abuse.
During a Food Deficit Mitigation Strategy Sensitisation Meeting in Bulawayo on Thursday attended by traditional leaders, and provincial and district structures from across Zimbabwe, government officials expressed their intention to apply the PVO Amendment Bill to nutritional garden projects managed by some NGOs in various communities.
Director of Social Development, Tawanda Zimhunga, in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare confirmed that once the PVO Bill is signed into law, the government would effectively monitor and supervise NGOs.
“It is our hope that when the PVO Bill is passed into law, we will be able to effectively monitor these NGOs. As I was saying, our PVO monitoring team has been to Mashonaland Central, Harare and Mashonaland West visiting those NGOS and monitoring their activities on the ground,” Zimunga said.
“Very soon they will be reaching out to your province Mashonaland East and the remainder of the provinces, monitoring the PVOs so that they stick to the mandate that they are registered for.”
Zimhunga’s sentiments came after Mashonaland East Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Apollonia Munzverengwi, claimed nutritional gardens had to be formalised.
Munzverengwi said communities had seen the effectiveness of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s projects that uplifted villagers’ livelihoods such as projects introduced in Mangwe and Masvingo compared to some nutritional gardens.
“There are so many nutritional gardens in the NGOs and we are requesting the relevant ministry to try and formalise these. Is it not possible for the responsible ministry to preside over these NGOs so that we want to see the results. We have thousands of NGOs in the countryside but there are no tangible results that we are seeing,” said the Mashonaland East provincial minister.
“Besides the World Food Programme, I’m happy that they are going to take care of one district in my province but we are saying ‘coordinate.’ We need to see the effectiveness of their programmes.”
Acting Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, July Moyo also emphasised that NGOs who did nutritional gardens must first engage the local leadership in villages.
“Anybody who is doing a garden needs availability of water such as a borehole, small dams, rivers that are identified by village structures, so anybody who wants to do that whether government, ministry of agriculture have to go to the villages,” he said, noting 35 000 of the 36 000 village heads in Zimbabwe had already been identified.
“Anybody who wants to do gardening through boreholes that are to be drilled still have to go to the village heads. If you are doing nutrition gardens because there is going to be an existing waterbody and that waterbody is in the rural areas, you still have to work with the chieftainships. We want collaborative work whether it’s UNICEF, agriculture or the District Development Fund, we will be counting on chiefs.”