Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD) says is supports the intention of the Zambian government to bid for the hosting of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) secretariat of the African Union.
ZCSD Executive Director Lewis Mwape said in a statement issued to the media that his organization supports Zambias bid as it will provide credibility, independence as well as enhance the performance and efficiency of ECOSOCC when it is hosted in the country.
Mr Mwape however said the country needs improve the environment for the Civil Society to operate freely.
“As we support the move by the government, we would like to state that the Zambian government needs to improve the Civil Society (CS) enabling environment that has deteriorated due to the implementation of bad laws such as the NGO Act number 16 of 2009 and the Public Order Act CAP 113 of the laws of Zambia which do not promote the liberties and freedoms of the citizens which ECOSOCC endeavors to promote.
In this bid, we call upon the government restate the roadmap for the repeal of the NGO Act number 16 of 2009 and the Public Act CAP 113 of the laws of Zambia in order to facilitate the full participation of CSOs from all AU member countries,” he said.
He also raised concerns about the conditions set for to be members.
“We are also concerned that the ECOSOCC is not open up to most legitimate CSOs across Africa and the SADC region in particular because conditions set for acceptance only promotes individual NGOs that have questionable constituencies or just exist on paper.
The conditions set by ECOSOCC for entry encourages for briefcase and personalized NGOs to be members of the organisation.
“We are aware that Zambia currently hosts the ECOSOCC Presidency and some commissioners. If Zambia succeeds to host the ECOSOCC secretariat, we must also push for the democratisation of ECOSOCC to allow legitimate and credible CSOs to participate and lead the institution. We urge member states to push for the opening up of ECOSOCC so that it can truly represent the voices of the people and full participation of legitimate CSOs in Africa,” he said.
He further called for support from member organizations within SADC.
“ZCSD takes this opportunity to request national umbrella organisations across the SADC to support Zambias bid to host the ECOSOCC secretariat. We are sure that this will support our access as CSOs across Africa to ECOSOCC secretariat which has proved to be very difficult since it was established,” Mr Mwape said.
Zambia has successfully presented her bid to the AU Permanent Representatives Committee to host the secretariat for the ECOSOCC.