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Is U.S Agency Investigating Misuse of Donor Funds in Zimbabwe?


At least 15 civil society organizations are allegedly under investigation by the United States government for misuse and misappropriation of donor funds.

Online publication, NewZimbabwe.com, reports that the funds donated through the United States fund distributor – the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) - and dispersed to some organization dealing with elections and peace building initiatives, are under investigation.

VOA Studio 7 was unable to get full confirmation of the said investigation from officials with the United States- Embassy in Harare, who said they were looking into the article and those named to be included in the alleged probe.

Though not substantiated to issues of funding, there was conflict in the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition late last year with former board chairperson, Dewa Mavhinga, maintaining its position on the lobby group’s decision not to renew the contract of its then director McDonald Lewanika.

Mavhinga then resigned from his position, citing deep mistrust and wrangling that he said had become untenable for effective leadership.

Human rights lawyer and Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow, Arthur Gwagwa, who is researching transparency within civil organizations, said in countries facing transitional democracy there is always need for structured presence for both Civil Society Organizations' and donor funders.

“The other issue that we need to look at is that most organizations that promote democracy and human rights in times of a crisis or transition are crisis driven, in other words they respond to the crisis as it evolves,” said Gwagwa.

He said in cases such as these, and often seen, the organizations don't have the time to look into the organization in order for them to build durable structures that are strong, accountable and transparent.

“That is not to say the organizations in Zimbabwe are not transparent or accountable, what I’m simply saying is that for some of the organizations that are formed during times of crisis, they are crisis-driven and do not have strong structures to deal with these issues,” he said.

Gwagwa noted that a clear path would be to create a two-tier self-governing structure that requires those organizations who subscribe to adhere to rules and regulations.

He said the structures should include a governing body, and a regulation board that would be responsible for following up on issues of transparency, accountability and transparency.

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