NGOs reject fraudulent law aimed at controlling civil society

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JOINT CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS PRESS RELEASE ON THE NGO ACT IMPLEMENTATION

We, the undersigned Civil Society Organisations are disappointed in the manner the Patriotic Front (PF) government wants to proceed in the registration of the NGOs under the NGO law that is depraved and lack credibility.

It is worth-noting that we, the Zambian Non-Governmental Organisations, do not oppose the idea of being regulated by an Act of Parliament. The position of Non-Governmental Organisations is that the legislation ought to be used to enhance transparency, accountability and independence of Non-Governmental Organisations so that Civil Society Organisations could increase space in their operations and existence, which is not the case in the current state of the Act.

We want to remind the PF government that“there is nothing for us without us”. The move by the Minister of Community Development Mother and Child Health to appointment and launch the NGO Board with all members appointed from Government Ministries except one who is an independent Consultant is misplaced, done in bad faith and lacks credibility. This is unacceptable and we want to call upon the President, Mr. Michael Chilufya Sata to intervene in this matter as he cannot continue to remain on the terraces while the civil space continues to be muzzled by his government.

We would like to remind the PF government that while in opposition, the party sided with the CSOs in rejecting the NGO Act and we wonder what has changed in the Act now for the new government to rush for the registration of the NGOs before repealing the law. Mr. President and your government, we as Civil Society are not demanding anything from your government which is outside of your promises to the Zambian People and Civil Society in particular:

The PF Manifesto states:

“Civil society organisations and the State is essentially fraught with suspicion, antagonism and conflict due to lack of appreciation by the MMD government of the role of the civil society as a partner in national development. Consequently the civil society has found it difficult to play its meaningful role in the area of social justice, good governance and national development.

In order to enhance the role of the civil society and its relationship with the State the PF government shall:

  • Recognize the State and civil society as mutually interdependent and complementary partners in national development;
  • Guarantee the active participation of civil society in matters of social justice and good governance;
  • Promote constant dialogue between the State and the civil society;
  • Review the Non-Governmental Organizations Act of 2009 so as to promote the above”[1]

We therefore want to remind your Government that you have strayed away from your plans to better the relationship between the State and the Civil Society Organisations. As Civil Society Organisations we are willing to cooperate with your government once your government commits itself to implementing its own promises to the people of Zambia as reflected in your Party Manifesto, 2011-2016.

Our Concerns:

a)    Enforcement and implementation of the NGO Act has potential to violate some of Zambia’s Human Rights obligations particularly the “Right to freedom of Association” as well as the “Right to Freedom of Assembly” as guaranteed under the Zambian Constitution, as well as under its international Human Rights obligations as a State Party to instruments such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights;

b)    The NGO Act in its current form is fundamentally fraud and a threat to Civil Society Organizations’ space and growth in Zambia. We have observed that the NGO Act, in its current form fails short of promoting the growth of civil society space as it is framed more on the micro-managing of Non-Governmental Organisations rather than facilitating the same in Zambia.

c)     The NGO Act is erroneously premised on the assumption that Non-Governmental Organisations prior to the Enactment of the Act existed in a vacuum. However, Non Governmental Organisations have been in existence for a long period in Zambia and duly regulated under various Acts of Parliament such as the Societies Act (Chapter 119 of the laws of Zambia), the Companies Act (Chapter 388 of the laws of Zambia) and the Lands (Perpetual Succession) Act (Chapter 186 of the laws of Zambia). Accordingly, any Non Governmental Organizations’ registration under the NGO Act ought to be in full compliance of respective Acts of Parliament it is registered under.

 

d)    In line with (c) above, the NGO Act is not clear on what will be done to other legal institutions to which the NGOs are currently registered to. The ministry of Community Development has not guided properly and are in conflict with other statutory bodies. To make the matters worse, most NGOs have already paid fees for their annual returns to government and as NGOs we cannot afford to pay fees towards registration legalities twice in a year, which we have already satisfactorily done, with registrar of Societies, PACRA and other legal bodies.

e)     Government has appointment the NGO Board Members which has not included any Member from Civil Society Organisations. You should be aware that CSOs could not elect and second their representatives into NGO Board because they have rejected the NGO Act and demanded for it to be reviewed first before registration could start. This was a resolution and recommendation by the full NGO congress , the supreme body created by the Act and attended by over 300 NGOs. How then do we start overturning the resolutions of the Congress before reverting to the members first? This will be bad corporate governance and we will not want to fall into such traps.

 Our Demands

a)    Abolish the board which has been appointed to serve government interest and not the interest of the wider citizenry and the Civil Society organisation who have been positively contributing to socio-economic development of our country. No board should be operationalized before the NGO Act 16 of 2009 is reviewed as per PF manifesto provision;

b)    We further wish to inform you that Civil Society Organisations will not register with a Government led NGO Board and henceforth call on our constituency, the NGOs not turn out and register under the bogus Act. There is no way we can drink the poison in expectation of deintoxication later.

 c)     Review the NGO Act as a matter of urgency as promised in your Party Manifesto. If this is not done, we will withdraw our members who are in the NGO Council.


 Signed:

SN Name Organisation Position Signature
1 Lewis Mwape Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD) Executive Secretary  
2 McDonald Chipenzi Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) Executive Director  
3 Goodwel Lungu Transparent International Zambia (TIZ) Executive Director  
4 Fr. Chiti Leonard Jesuit Center for Theoretical Reflection (JCTR) Director  
5 Andrew Ntewewe Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) President  
6 Beatrice Grill NGOCC Chairperson  
7 Lilian Kiefer Panos Institute of Southern Africa Executive Director  
8 Chilufya Tayali Zambian Voice Executive Director  
9 Macha Herbert MISA Zambia Executive Director  
10 Guess Nyirenda Operation Young Vote Executive Director  
11        
12        
13        
14        
15        

 


[1] PF Manifesto  2011-2016

Comments Closed

18 Responses to NGOs reject fraudulent law aimed at controlling civil society

  1. Divided loyalty on issues of national interest must not be tolerated. Each NGO has a duty to uphold the rule of law. This includes registration and filing reports. It also includes paying taxes.

    Dr. Makasa Kasonde (Private Citizen) - July 16, 2013
    09:02

  2. Tefyo this is not about politics, it’s bringing checks and balances to a sector in which some players have missaplied donor aid. The reason this law has been enacted, is to seal all the loop holes that are there due to a fragmented registration process. We need donor funding channelled to it’s intended purpose, huge amounts of Money are not going to the grassroots, that is why these NGOS are fighting this act aggressively.

    PRINCESS - July 16, 2013
    07:29

  3. I didn’t see Sunday Chanda’s name on that petition.The chap is irritating.He has turned his NGO into a Pamafi Choir.Tukamufunye chi njanji pamatako.

    Chris~Omar^C - July 16, 2013
    06:15

  4. When we say good governance levels are heading down hill,people are frowning.Wake up before you are burried NGOs.This is the time we need you most in this newly found nation of UKWALAND!

    awee - July 16, 2013
    06:14

  5. My church catholic is no longer insipiring becoz the church is known to fight for pipos rights but despite these harassments put on the journalists which are not fair and the church has decided to remain quite. is it becoz our arcbishop is related to sata as we heard from some sections? plz my church show your moral fight for the poor which u are known so that there wil be order in the country. u did it during kk, ftj and levy.

    chanda d - July 16, 2013
    05:10

  6. These NGOs make me laugh. Ati you can’t drink poison and start detoxification. Have you forgotten that you already took Satan’s venom and now you are trying to de- intoxicate? 2011, PABWATOOO!!! You are most foolish NGO leaders. How could you have failed to realise Sata had no what it takes to be President? Other than a few who were nominated, Sata’s cabinet, other ministers and mps are third rate material.

    chipasa 'inge' - July 15, 2013
    19:38

  7. The tax base is getting wider!
    NGOs are the only industries left!
    Subsidy on NGOs has also been removed!

    Dim Wit - July 15, 2013
    19:22

  8. You supported him and now TASTE his medicine

    ZAMPOTO - July 15, 2013
    18:06

  9. This is the problem when people are used to stealing Money meant for alleviating poverty, the very thought of being regulated gets them so scared. More Money has been poured into civil society than the budget, but this Money just benefits these same people who have signed this petition. If we are going to develop this country, we should be selfless, civil society needs to be regulated PERIOD!!!!!

    PRINCESS - July 15, 2013
    17:39

    • Read the article. They are already regulated under various acts. Strenthen the same acts if you percieve any weakness in them but don’t intimidate them. Looks like anothey trick on the way to dictatorship and oneparty state

      tefyo - July 15, 2013
      22:09

  10. enjoy the bitterness of your prescribed medicine. Is it not good to see him do what he knows best.

    BP - July 15, 2013
    16:36

  11. This is want you wanted when you supported pama fi, dance to your own pelete.

    Resurrected Mailoni blazas - July 15, 2013
    14:41

    • So now you have woken up????

      PF is a BUFI party with the SATA BUFI and a lot of spineless unprincipled bootlicking MPs.

      What did you expect?

      What you ARE GOING TO GET is more BUFI! That is the only thing you can be sure of!

      Bembabimbo - July 15, 2013
      17:26

  12. This is want to wanted when you supported pama fi, dance to your own pelete.

    Resurrected Mailoni blazas - July 15, 2013
    14:40

  13. Ya Ya Ya Ya…! Tats the way to go.Reject oppressive tricks.Open yr eyes,ears to foresee the serpent Micheal Sata`s cunning matrix.The cobra`s striking force is fierce.Be warned b4.

    Except for Unknown - July 15, 2013
    13:47

  14. The President is indeed on the terraces! Where is the real Sata????

    shimwitwa - July 15, 2013
    13:12

    • He is the one that’s pushing for regulation!

      cynic - July 15, 2013
      13:55

    • How can you ask such a question Fatherless Bwalya told you were CNP is.

      tumba - July 15, 2013
      14:08