Non- Governmental organizations (NGOs) and other charity organizations in Zimbabwe can operate as Private Voluntary Organizations (PVO). The registration of the PVOs is regulated by the Private Voluntary Organizations Act (Chapter 17:05).
Section 2 of the said Act defines a PVO as follows;
“private voluntary organization” means any body or association of persons, corporate or unincorporate, or any institution, the objects of which include or are one or more of the following—
(a) the provision of all or any of the material, mental, physical or social needs of persons or families;
(b) the rendering of charity to persons or families in distress;
(c) the prevention of social distress or destitution of persons or families;
(d) the provision of assistance in, or promotion of, activities aimed at uplifting the standard of living of persons or families;
(e) the provision of funds for legal aid;
(f) the prevention of cruelty to, or the promotion of the welfare of, animals;
(g) such other objects as may be prescribed;
(h) the collection of contributions for any of the foregoing;”
The Act also establishes a board called the Private Voluntary Organizations Board which is appointed to consider and determine every application for registration and every proposed
cancellation or amendment of a certificate of registration, to hear representations by any association, organization or institution claiming entitlement to be registered as a private voluntary organization and to advise the Minister and registered private voluntary organizations in respect of any matter arising out of the administration or operation of the Act or any other matter referred to it by the Minister or the Registrar.
The law makes it peremptory for every PVO to register before it commences its activities or seek any financial assistance from any source and any contravention of these provisions constitute a criminal offence punishable by a fine or imprisonment or both. See Section 6.
The registration steps are as follows;
- The secretary of any private voluntary organization which is required to be registered shall lodge with the Registrar in the prescribed manner an application for such registration together with the constitution of the organization.
- A private voluntary organization which lodges an application shall at its own expense publish in a newspaper circulating in the area concerned a notice containing the prescribed information and shall submit proof to the Registrar that such notice has been published.
- Any person may within the prescribed period lodge with the Registrar an objection to the grant of the application setting out the grounds on which such objection is made; and the Registrar shall submit any such objection to the Board for consideration.
- The Registrar may require any private voluntary organization which has applied for registration to supply any further information in connexion with its application which he may deem necessary.
- Where the Registrar is satisfied that the requirements above have been complied with, he shall submit the application, together with the constitution of the organization, any objection to the grant of the application and any further information supplied in connection with the application to the Board and the Board may—after considering the application, grant it and direct the Registrar to issue to the organization concerned a certificate of registration subject to such conditions as the Board may impose; or reject the application if it appears to the Board that the organization is not bona fide operating in furtherance of the objects mentioned in its application for registration; or the organization does not, in respect of its constitution or management, comply with the provisions of this Act.
- The registration of an organization under this section and the objects in respect of which it has been registered shall be published by the Registrar in the
- Where a registered private voluntary organization wishes to change its name or add to or alter any of the objects in respect of which it is registered, the secretary thereof shall apply to the Registrar for the certificate of registration thereof to be amended accordingly.
The legislature further requires that international organizations applying for registration as PVOs should have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the relevant government ministries in their area of technical operations. The signed copy of the MOU is submitted to the Registrar together with the following:
- Curriculum Vitae and Interpol Clearance certificate for the country representative. (Interpol clearance certificate is required where the country representative is of foreign origin, but local police clearance suffices where the representative is a citizen or permanent resident of Zimbabwe.
- Proposed area of geographic coverage.
The PVO board may at any time cancel and/or amend the registration certificate on the following grounds among other things; if any remuneration or reward, which in his opinion is excessive in relation to the total value of the contributions received by the organization concerned, has been retained or received by any person other than a person for whose benefit the contributions were intended; or if the organization has failed to comply with any condition of its registration; or if the organization has ceased to function as a private voluntary organization; or if he considers that the objects in respect of which the organization was registered are merely ancillary or incidental to the other objects of the organization etc.
Before any cancellation or amendment is made the Registrar of PVO shall cause written notice of his intention to do so to be given to the secretary of the organization concerned and shall afford him a reasonable opportunity of showing cause why the certificate should not be so cancelled or amended.
The contents of this article are for general information purposes only and do not constitute our legal or professional advice. We accept no responsibility for any loss or damage of whatsoever nature which may arise from reliance on any of the information published herein.
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