Accountability of non-governmental organisations in poverty alleviation programmes
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Zimbabwe have been widely regarded as drivers of socio-economic transformation in many poor rural communities. Their contribution has long been questioned by the government, as they were accused of being ‘agents’ of Western imperialism hiding under the ‘mask’ of development aid. This paper interrogates the aspect of accountability, which is a good-governance imperative, to assess if NGOs are transparent and accountable in managing donor funds in their poverty alleviation programmes in Mwenezi District, Zimbabwe. The paper employs a qualitative research approach that draws its data from four NGOs that were purposively selected as case studies due to their roles in poverty alleviation in the district. Data for the paper was collected using semi-structured interviews and documents: NGO staff were interviewed as key informants based on their knowledge and participation in poverty alleviation programmes. Findings of this paper revealed that NGOs struggled to uphold accountability in poverty alleviation programmes due to poor governance structures, limited skills, political interference, and poor monitoring and evaluation techniques. The implications of this paper are that for NGOs to be sustainable in the highly politicised environment in Zimbabwe, they need to effectively uphold accountability to the government and communities they serve. Whereas decentralising services is of paramount importance to increased decision making, NGOs need to portray innovative leadership, which is key to attracting donor funding.