NGOs take swipe at PF’s inertia over NGO Act

McDonald_Chipenzi-Executive_DirectorNon Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have expressed concern over the Patriotic Front (PF) government’s failure to address the controversial NGO Act No 6 of 2009 which they had promised to address during the election campaigns.

And Anti Voter Apathy (AVAP) executive director Richwell Mulwani said the PF should commit itself to the amendment process as indicated in their party manifesto and ensure that the Act is taken back to Parliament for amendment following recommendations from the just ended NGO Congress.

The NGOs complained over the rigidity of government in opening up to address the matter during the first NGO Congress which has exposed government’s lack of interest in laws meant to improve people’s well being.

Government’s lack of interest in addressing this issue has since brought confusion among the organisations who now accuse each other of being compromised over the contentious issues outlined in the Act.

Forum for Democratic Process (FODEP) Chairperson McDonald Chipenzi said the current NGO Act was detrimental to progression the country has made in the attainment of  true democracy adding that the interim board comprising NGO Coordinating Council (NGOCC), Zambia Civic Education Association (ZCEA) and Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) has failed to point out matters that needed urgent attention.

Others on the board included Action Aid, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) and the Zambia Social Council for Development (ZSCD).

According to Part 3 of the NGO Act, registration of an NGO should be facilitated by section 10 (1) which states that ‘subject to section eleven, a person shall not operate an NGO that is not registered in accordance with this Act.’

And Mr. Chipenzi argued that since there was no organisation that had  so far registered under the Act, the interim board should have argued against that fact, which by law did not recognize the  existence of all NGO’S as at now.

“There are definite flaws in this law and it’s surprising that our colleagues in the interim board failed to speak out on the criminality of this law directed against the major stakeholders- in this case, the NGOs themselves,” he said.

The organisations argued that the board could not have failed to identify themselves as the victims of the 2009 Act as it was designed against the people it was meant for.

“When a piece of legislature defines what you do, it simply means that anything it doesn’t say would be contradicting the law, tentatively, this board should have attacked the very existence of such a law and an immediate review should have been proposed to identify a road today,” they said.

And AVAP director Mr Mulwani said that the NGOs were requesting for a law that would work for the betterment of the Zambian people and not promote hostility between the law makers and the NGO sector.“Parliament has a responsibility to ensure that this law is repealed so that it works for the good of NGOs, because as it is in its state we know this law was made to frustrate the efforts of the NGOs,” Mr Mulani said.

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