Civil society organisations have rejected a government order for mandatory regulation which they feel is the government’s manuvouers to stifle and regulate their activities.
The CSOs have argued that the current NGO Act was a threat to the existence of a vibrant civil society movement and that it was meant to work against the tenets of democracy. In a communiqué signed by 26 NGOs and obtained by the Daily Nation, the CSOs have explained that while they were not opposed to NGO regulation, they were resolutely opposed to regulation under the same law which the PF while in the opposition promised to repeal. The CSOs there were provisions in the current NGO Act that allowed for serious government interference with the work and activities of the NGOs. The twenty six CSO’s stated that they were opposed to provision that promulgated sanctions against NGOs in the event that there was violation of the NGO Act. “We are therefore resolved that our organisations will not register under the current Act until government addresses the above issues, The NGOs are also demanding that government suspends the 90 day period until the contentious issues have been resolved. We further call upon all NGOs countrywide not to register under the same Act,” the communiqué reads in part. The CSOs said that the PF should not go down in history as a political party that never listened to the cries of the citizens on laws that were infringing on the enjoyment of their rights. The CSOs have called on President Sata to intervene in the matter saying the Head of State could not continue remaining in the terraces as the civil society organisations continued to get muzzled by his government.
Meanwhile, the NGOCC has said that the 2009 NGO Act in its current form had the potential to seriously interfere with the work of nongovernmental organizations in Zambia. Beatrice Grillo, the NGOCC chairperson was of the view that regulating the operations of NGOs through the NGO Act was an act meant to stifle the activities of the NGOs a self regulatory mechanism by the civil society themselves was preferable. She said that the NGO Act contained a great number of unclear provisions that allowed for discretionary political configuration of the NGOs and thus constitutes significant threat to the exercise of the human rights to freedom of association and of expression. Ms Grillo said it was imperative that the civil society organizations come up with a self regulatory framework that will guide the work of CSOs in the country and a law that will promote transparency , accountability and independence of NGOs so that they can increase space in their operations and existence.