THE government yesterday began a countrywide verification of all non-governmental organisations (NGOs), in a move aimed at establishing their level of capacity to serve the communities in partnership with the government.
The Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Sihaba Nkinga, noted here that the government has also suspended registration of new NGOs across the country up to November 30, this year or until the verification exercise comes to an end.
"... This will give room for government experts to process NGO information from all centres set up for the verification," the PS told a joint press conference with members of civil society organisations.
Ms Sihaba Nkinga said the exercise would also enable the government to get the actual number of active NGOs operating within the country, adding that the 14-day exercise would also assist the government in reviving the database of active NGOs.
By last July, some 8,316 international and local NGOs with focus on health, education, environment, agriculture, good governance, human rights, gender and special groups were on record as having been registered across the country.
Ms Nkinga pointed out that the verification teams - expected to finalise their work on September 4 - requires that all NGOs submit receipts of annual fee payments or bank slips since the date of registration - plus original registration certificate.
"NGOs should hand over duly filled-in NGO forms with registration number - UHK/2017 - which is available online plus a letter from regional or district community development officers confirming addresses of the NGOs under review ... in the areas," she explained
.As she spoke, Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition National Coordinator Onesmo Olengurumwa was quick to allay fears that the government would target any single NGO - saying it would instead help make public vital contributions made by civil society movements across the country, stressing the sector makes an important contribution to community development.
Back to government corridors, Ms Nkinga said in light of the country's huge geographical size, the state had set up zones to facilitate smooth implementation, stressing that the exercise would be implemented in five zones with Eastern Zone alone covering five regions - Mtwara, Lindi, Coast, Morogoro and Dar es Salaam, where the teams would carry out the task at the department of NGO coordination offices along Kivukoni Street.
The Central zone would meanwhile cover four regions, namely: Kigoma, Tabora, Singida and Dodoma, whose verification exercise will take place in the building housing the community development portfolio at the University of Dodoma (UDOM).
The Lake Zone with six regions - Kagera, Geita, Shinyanga, Simiyu, Mara and Mwanza and that the centre is operating out of the regional administration secretariat (RAS) offices; the Northern Zone, will also span four regions, namely: Manyara, Arusha, Tanga and Kilimanjaro, whose centre of verification would likewise take place at the RAS offices.
Further, she said the Southern Highland Zone will cover six regions, which will include: Katavi, Rukwa, Ruvuma, Njombe, Iringa and Mbeya where the verification will take place in RAS offices at Mbeya.
The general secretary in National Council for NGOs, Mr Ismael Suleiman, welcomed the move, saying the move would help create an active system of NGOs across the country and urged the government to establish a board for NGOs to facilitate their activities.
He appealed to all NGOs to take part in the verification which takes place across the country for the first time.