Lusaka, Zambia – As the deadline for registration comes to a close Monday, 3 February, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) here have resolved not to register under the NGO Act, charging that the Act of 2009 is retrogressive and that it is not in the best interest of some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).
NGO Coordinating Council (NGOCC) chairperson, Beatrice Grillo, told reporters Monday that the NGOs have resolved not to register under the NGO Act until all the necessary amendments on the proposed unconstitutional Act of 2009 is resolved.
Under the 2009 NGO Act, all NGO’s working in Zambia, both local and foreign, are required to register with the newly-created NGO Registration Board for regulation purposes.
The NGOs are also required to disclose their sources of income and how such incomes are expended through quarterly reports to the NGO Registrar.
No genuine NGO is prepared to register under the Act in its current form, Grillo stated, charging that the Act is in conflict with Article 21 of the constitution as its scope goes beyond the prior restraints permissible under the Article and restricts freedom of association and movement.
Grillo also observed that the Act does not recognise the previous legal status of the registered NGOs under the existing legal framework (societies Act), saying that the provision in the NGO Act on re-registration are confusing and ambiguous.
The NGOs argue that the Act giving birth to the NGO Registration Board is flawed and contradicts the Republican Constitution.
Government, however, has threatened to deregister all NGOs that will not comply with the registration deadline, warning that NGOs that will not register under the current NGO Act even if they have other licenses that allows them to operate, risk being deregistered and will not be allowed to operate.
According to the global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, only 82 of the 904 NGOs listed with the government in Zambia have registered under the law.