RBZ to keep a watchful eye on NGOs

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Financial Intelligence Unit Deputy Director, Oliver Chiperesa, has said that government will employ monitoring mechanisms to ensure that Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) do not fund terrorist activities.

NANGO reported that the deputy director said this at an awareness workshop for NGOs on terrorist financing and vulnerability of Non-Profit Organisations sector that was held by the Financial Intelligence Unit in Harare.

Chiperesa said, “We have identified what makes NGOs vulnerable to funding terrorism and now the RBZ wants to make it harder to fund terrorist activities. We need to identify specific risks that face the NGO sector and how to mitigate against them.”

The deputy director added that there is need to take stock of all NGOs in the country, what programs they implement and where their funding comes from. He said this will assist in identifying organisations that are at greatest risk and putting additional measures to ensure that there is no opportunity for them to knowing or unknowingly fund terrorism.

NGO leaders and finance personnel expressed concern questioning if in Zimbabwe terrorism is a threat that warrants this level of alarm by the Central Bank.

Edson Chihota, the Director of Zimbabwe Association for Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation of the Offender (ZACRO) commented on how the government’s interests into the work of NGOs is rising at a time when organisations’ programming is centred around elections. Chihota asked if there are any Zimbabwean organisations that have funded terrorism therefore warranting this exercise.

In response Chiperesa said that the awareness workshops have been on going as the unit has met with business people and legal practitioners. He said the unit was proactive and needed not to wait for terrorism to occur in Zimbabwe. He also said that the Financial Action Task Force has been in place for years and tightened reigns after the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States of America.

NANGO Northern Region Coordinator, Charity Musiiwa, asked if the Financial Intelligence Unit was guided by any research that gives basis for RBZ’s mitigation mechanisms.

The deputy director responded by saying the Best Practice Paper on Combating Terrorist Financing in the NPO Sector and another paper titled Risk of Terrorist Abuse in NPOs are among many researches that the Financial Intelligence Unit can share with civil society. He also said there are some case studies of Pakistan and Iraq.

Tafirenyika Mugomba who is the Zimbabwe Aids Network Finance and Administration Manager, expressed that the processes outlined by the Unit mostly affect the banking sector as NGOs submit their annual returns to the parent Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare a mechanism already in place to monitor NGOs.

RBZ officials announced that they will be circulating a risk assessment questionnaire to all NGOs as a way of collecting data and assessing the level of vulnerability.

The Financial Intelligence Unit is the main Anti-Money Laundering/ Combating the Financing Terrorism (AML/CFT) regulator, but works in close cooperation with the supervisory and regulatory bodies of the various types of designated reporting institutions to ensure that the regulated entities comply with their AML/CFT obligations.

The RBZ Financial Intelligence Unit is guided by the Financial Action Task Force Recommendations that are internationally endorsed global standards against money laundering and terrorist financing. They increase transparency and enable countries to successfully take action against illicit use of their financial system.

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