This is a summary of the notable changes to be introduced by the Private Voluntary Organisations (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
Zimbabwe is a member of the Financial Action Taskforce “FAFT” and these amendments to the Private Voluntary Organisations Act [Chapter 17:05] are said to be motivated by FAFT’s recommendations to Zimbabwe – in particular, recommendation 8 in Zimbabwe’s Mutual Evaluation Report which provides that Private Voluntary Organisations “PVO” can be abused by money launderers and terrorist financiers. It was stated to be necessary to introduce clear laws in an attempt to prevent any potential abuse in the PVO sector.
If a trust is not registered as a PVO but is collecting contributions from the public, the Registrar of PVO’s shall require the Trust to subscribe to a sworn declaration that it shall not collect any contributions from the public. Alternatively, the trust must register as a PVO.
- Office of the Registrar
There shall be a Registrar of PVO. However, until such time as an appointment of the Registrar is made, the Director of Social Welfare shall hold the office.
- Registration Fees
The Amendment Bill introduces a fee for registration of a PVO. The fee seems to only be applicable to new applications.
- Political Activity
A PVO can now have its certificate of registration cancelled by the PVO Board (the Board) if the PVO is found to be in support or opposition of any political party or candidate in a presidential, parliamentary or local government election.
Further, a PVO can also have its certificate cancelled for breaching Section 7 of the Political Parties (Finance) Act [Chapter 2:11] which provides that no foreign national can solicit donations from the public on behalf of a political party or candidate.
- Reregistration or Amendment of Registration
If there is a material change being;
- a change in the constitution governing the PVO that occurs upon the termination of the PVO with respect to the disposal of its assets on the date of its termination;
- any institutional or personnel change in the management of the PVO;
- any variation of the capacity of the PVO to operate as a PVO;
the PVO must notify the PVO Board of the same, and such amendment can either be accepted or rejected.
- Executive Committee
The Executive Committee can be suspended for;
- failing to act in accordance with the objects of the PVO;
- participating in illegal activities; or
- if it is the public interest.
The Minister can apply to the High Court to appoint one or more persons as trustees to run the affairs of the organisation for a period of 60 days during which period new members of the executive committee must be appointed.
- Risk Assessment in relation to Private Voluntary Organisations
The Minister, in cooperation with the Financial Intelligence Unit shall at least once every five years undertake a risk assessment of all PVOs. On the basis of the risk assessment, the Minister may require a PVO to undertake specific measures to mitigate the risk of abuse.
The Minister has been given additional powers to make regulations on;
- the procedure and frequency of meetings of the Board;
- conditions under which members of the Board shall cease to hold office;
- fees payable to the Board;
- disclosure of sources of funding.
- Civil Penalties
The Registrar now has the power to issue civil penalty orders for non-compliance with the PVO Act or its regulations.
- no civil penalty may be issued more than twelve months from the date of default;
- a single civil penalty may be served in respect of two or more defaults committed by the same defaulter within a single period not exceeding six months;
iii. if the same act is liable to both criminal and civil penalty proceedings, the acquittal in criminal matter does not excuse the defaulter from liability arising from the civil penalty proceedings.
GILL GODLONTON & GERRANS
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