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NGOs fret over withdrawn funding

THE three local non-governmental organisations (NGOs), whose foreign funding was last week unilaterally cut by the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) on allegations of gross mismanagement, yesterday denied the accusations and expressed shock at the decision.

BY RICHARD CHIDZA

In separate statements, the Counselling Services Unit (CSU), Elections Resource Centre and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) claimed they were ready to prove their innocence.

“The current distressing situation created by a unilateral termination of funding by USAid on the United Nations International Day for Victims of Torture before investigations of fund usage are complete, and the subsequent lack of communication from USAid despite written requests and the blanket embassy statements, innuendo and allegations are deeply distressing to the board, staff and survivors of torture in Zimbabwe,” the CSU statement
read.

The organisation said it was a registered health clinic in Zimbabwe that provides “non-partisan medical and rehabilitation services to all victims of organised violence and torture”.

It added that since 2003, it had provided services to more than

25 000 victims of political violence, saying there was no record that they abused the funding facility.

“At no time have funds been misappropriated, diverted or put to misuse by CSU, all funds are entirely committed to promoting the treatment, rehabilitation, safety and re-integration back into communities for survivors of torture,” the statement added.

“CSU has annual audits by internationally credible audit firms appointed by the board in agreement with USAid and has, at no time, had any adverse or questionable use of funds been raised either by the audit firm or USAid or the office of the Inspector-General.”

ZimRights said it had equally been aggrieved by the US action and left in shock.

“ZimRights avows that at no time in its six-year relationship with USAid have funds been abused or misappropriated.

All funds have been dedicated to promoting, defending and protecting human rights in the country.

“Routine financial audit reports since the inception of ZimRights have been done by internationally reputable auditors. During the USAid partnership, the audits have been timely produced by USAid-approved auditors who gave the ZimRights financial records a clean bill,” said the rights watchdog, adding it was also opening up its books for public inspection on request.

ERC claimed it was not given an opportunity to explain itself before withdrawal of the fund.

“We do not condone any misconduct or financial impropriety of whatever nature. Once we are furnished with a report with conclusive findings based on evidence by USAid, we will take appropriate action in keeping with our internal policies and procedures. The ERC has officially responded to the termination of the co-operative agreement with USAid by requesting the partner to avail the report of its findings based on evidence. We await their response,” the electoral watchdog said.

Source :

Newsday

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