The Afrika Tikkun Foundation has raised concerns about the impact of the proposed anti-terrorism and anti-fraud bill on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in South Africa.
South Africa has until the end of October to prove that it has the means to stop and prevent financial crimes or be greylisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
The FATF is an intergovernmental organisation aimed at combating money laundering and terrorism financing. Countries that have serious shortcomings in their money-laundering and terrorism financing policies and systems are placed on their grey list.
Last year, the FATF reported that South Africa had several shortcomings in its fight against financial crimes.
By the end of October, the country must submit a report to the FATF showing its plans to fight crime. If the deadline is missed, the country will likely be greylisted in 2023.
The General Laws (Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Terrorism Financing) Amendment Bill was tabled in Parliament in August, to avoid greylisting.
Among other things, the bill calls for stringent controls over the funding of NGOs. The bill requires all trusts, companies, or other associations of persons established for a public purpose to register as NGOs. Mandatory registration will also be required from foreign non-profits operating in South Africa.
The Afrika Tikkun Foundation said while they supported the government meeting the FATF demands, the bill was likely to hurt the NGO sector.
"We support the move to have any organisations receiving funds from unregulated sources be registered. This is the only way to ensure that terrorist organisations and other criminal activities are not being funded via such entities. It is these very activities that threaten the good work of organisations working to uplift marginalised communities," Afrika Tikkun Group CEO Marc Lubner said.
"While we support any effort that ensures funds are legitimately received, it is also important to consider the impact such changes will have on legitimately run organisations that would require a transition period to fully comply with the new law.
"As such, we would, however, suggest that Parliament allow organisations more time to comply with the new requirements once the amendments are passed into law."
According to Lubner, the NGO sector in South Africa employs more than 200 000 people and receives about R17-billion in international funding.