The Council of Non-Governmental Organizations (CNGO) in Zambia says threats by Community Minister Emerine Kabanshi to deregister NGO’s that have not yet registered with her ministry are null and void.
And the council has charged that NGO Registration Board has not been established in conformity with the requirements of Section 6 of the NGO Act, while the Registrar of societies is purporting to exercise powers not given to him in law.
CNGO chairperson Muzi Kamanga said that the decisions on registration and de-registration could only be made by the NGO Registration Board which gave instructions to the Registrar and not the minister.
Mr Kamanga explained that the CNGOs which was established under Section 30 of the NGO Act was the official representative of all NGOs in Zambia with the mandate to facilitate and coordinate their work.
He said the Act was not accepted by the civil society organisations because it gave the minister excessive powers over NGOs and that no amount of intimidation and threats would move its members closer to the registration room under the present Act.
“We were elected by the Zambia Congress of Non-Governmental Organisations (ZCNGOs), established under Section 29 of the NGO Act. The Council was elected at the Zambia Congress of NGOs held in December 2012 and organized by the Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health.
“As has already been explained in previous official statements by the NGO Council, the NGO Act is not acceptable because it gives the minister excessive powers over NGOs, to the extent that they would no longer be NGOs but instead be turned by the Act into virtual government agencies,” he said.
Mr Kamanga explained that the Congress resolved not to entertain any registration maneuvers under the current NGO Act until it had been reviewed and the Congress emphasized its reasons for the decision not to elect and second any NGO member to the NGO Registration Board.
“According to Section 6 of the Act the NGO Registration Board must have 15 members, 7 of whom are elected by the Zambia Congress of NGOs, and the remaining 8 seconded from different government ministries and departments. It is therefore clear that without the 7 members elected from the Zambia Congress of NGOs, there has been no establishment of an NGOs’ Registration Board as required by the Act,” Mr Kamanga said.
The CNGO chairperson said that as a council mandated to facilitate and coordinate the work of NGOs in Zambia in accordance with section 31 of NGO Act No. 16 of 2009, it would stand and defend the resolutions of the Zambia Congress of NGOs not to start the registration process under the current NGO Act until it was reviewed.
He also expressed ignorance over the existence of a list of registered NGOs as purported by the minister as no consultation was made prior to coming up with such a list with the legal body under the Act when approving the listed NGOs.
Mr Kamanga revealed that some of the listed NGOs purported to have been registered by the ministry were not even on the original list of those NGOs that attended the December 2012 Zambia Congress of NGOs in Lusaka.