Sydney Kawadza Mash West Bureau Chief
Amnesty International Zimbabwe, which was exposed in an audit that unearthed serious fraud and mismanagement involving millions of United States dollars has been suspended from its mother body, Amnesty International. Amnesty International is an international human rights organisation that has been part of a phalanx of anti-establishment non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Zimbabwe.
In a statement yesterday, Amnesty International media manager for Southern Africa Mr Robert Shivambu said the international organisation’s international body was putting the local office under administration following evidence of fraud and financial misconduct.
“An extensive forensic audit was conducted in late 2018 which uncovered evidence of fraud and serious financial mismanagement by individuals in AIZ.
“National law enforcement agencies were notified of the findings earlier this year and the organisation also commenced the legal process of civil recovery in order to recoup lost funds,” Mr Shivambu said.
He said they had instituted urgent financial risk management measures to ensure anti-fraud and corruption procedures are adhered to while making sure that donor funds are safe.
“However, the decision has been made to take extraordinary measures on AIZ to protect the reputation, integrity and operation of the movement. It is with regret that it is now clear that AIZ has not been able to take the necessary steps in its duty of good governance,” he said.
AI also pledged its commitment to work with authorities while providing full assistance to all investigations to ensure that individuals who were involved in the unearthed misconduct are held to account.
AIZ has been part of a group of anti-establishment non-governmental organisations whose purported fight itself is a key pillar in pushing the regime change agenda in Zimbabwe while working with the MDC-Alliance of Advocate Nelson Chamisa.
It also joins a lengthening list of Western NGOs that have lost money to local activists that purport to fight for civil and political rights in the country.
Earlier this year, The Herald exclusively revealed the audit held late last year which later unearthed the irregularities.
According to that report investigators seconded from the London, United Kingdom, Amnesty International office recommended a forensic audit.
Among those implicated in the forensic report were country director Cousin Zilala and chairperson Takesure Musiyiwa.
Zilala later resigned while Musiyiwa was suspended in December last year pending a disciplinary process.
Amnesty also suspended finance officer Sibongile Zimbeva on allegations of mismanagement.
AIZ is one of the quasi-political civil society organisations that work as appendages of opposition political parties that have been implicated in the abuse of donor funds.
The US, through its US Agency for International Development (USAID) last year suspended funding of some of these NGOs that include Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), Election Resource Centre (ERC) and Counselling Services Unit (CSU) for failure to observe set financial guidelines and other improprieties.
Between 2011 and 2013, the USAID poured more than $850 million in the NGO sector, but dumped the civil society organisations after opposition parties lost resoundingly to Zanu-PF in 2013.
Most of the senior managers at the organisations have been accused of abusing donor funds to live luxurious lifestyles in upmarket residential areas and driving expensive cars.
The USAid, US Embassy in Harare and other Western embassies have lost significant amounts of money, but the matters have been hushed owing to the illicit nature of the operations.