A consortium of civil society organisations (CSOs) has reiterated its call on government to suspend the current non-governmental organisation (NGO) registration exercise and immediately initiate a process to repeal the Act.
The civil society organisations said they will remain resolute and unshaken to any innuendos and manoeuvres by any section of society to force them to be registered under an instrument that they claim was aimed at ‘killing’ the country’s democratic liberty.
In a statement read on behalf of 24 civil society organisations by Non Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) Board Secretary Grace Manyonga in Lusaka today, the CSOs said they were resolutely opposed to regulation under the current law.
Ms. Manyonga, who is also Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) Board Secretary, said CSOs have resolved not to register under the NGO Act in its current format and demand that government suspends the ongoing registration of NGOs until the contentious issues have been resolved.
She has since called on all NGOs countrywide not to register under the NGO Act in its current form and urged those that have registered or have shown intention to register to withdraw their registration.
Ms. Manyonga said the instruments under which all the CSOs were registered are still active and in force.
She said CSOs were of the considered view that self regulation was appropriate for their smooth operations just the way the media has been given an opportunity to regulate itself.
Ms. Manyonga said while CSOs acknowledge the need for some form of regulation to make NGOs more effective, transparent and to enhance their coordination, the manner in which the regulation was being done was questionable, especially that the Act was allegedly meant to suffocate the civil society movement.
She has since appealed to President Michael Sata and the government to intervene in the matter.
Ms. Manyonga said the President should ensure that the Act is quickly relooked at in line with the aspirations of the civil society.
She argued that the NGO Act was in violation of the fundamental civil and political rights to freedom of association and expression including the right to receive and impart information, as provided for in articles 20 and 21 of the republican constitution and the international legal instruments which Zambia has ratified.
Some of the CSOs that were represented were Transparency International Zambia (TIZ), NGOCC, Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP), Women for Change (WfC), Action Aid Zambia (AAZ), Operation Young Vote (OYV), Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) and Manna Widows.
Others are Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC), Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Zambia Council for Social Development, Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF), Women and Law in Southern Africa (WILSA) and Zambia National Women’s Lobby Group among many others.