See also:
27.02.2009 - Banda sacks two ministers
24.10.2008 - Banda calls for calm in Zambia's fourth presidential polls
19.09.2008 - Banda to keep economic policies
10.09.2008 - Zambia announces election date
21.08.2008 - Banda takes over as Zambian president
09.01.2008 - Zambia's AU bid gains boost
06.12.2007 - Zambia leader hails Zim progress
28.11.2007 - Zambian eyes AU post











China wholesale online through DHgate.com
Zambia
Politics | Society | Human rights

"NGO independence under threat" in Zambia

afrol News / IRIN, 19 July - Civil society in Zambia fears that the imminent introduction of legislation aimed at regulating non-governmental organisations (NGOs) will severely compromise their work and independence, and could even result in their operations being closed down.

The NGOs bill, introduced this week in the Lusaka parliament by Justice Minister George Kunda, calls for "the registration and co-ordination of NGOs - [and] to regulate the work, and the area of work of NGOs operating in Zambia".

If the bill becomes law it would empower the Interior Minister to form a 10-member board, comprised of government members and two representatives from civil society, which would "receive, discuss and approve the code of conduct [of NGOs], and ... provide policy guidelines to NGOs for harmonising their activities to the national development plan of Zambia."

Civil society leaders and human rights activists told the UN media 'IRIN' the new law was a ploy by government to silence their critics and erode the role of civil society. "We believe that this is a very sad moment in the life of Zambia's civil society. The bill is dictatorial and seeks to constrain and limit the space for civil society in the country," said Lee Habasonda, director of the Southern African Centre for Constructive Resolution of Disputes [SACCORD], a human rights and good governance watchdog.

"This sends very wrong signals and threatens the existence of NGOs, in that if the board is to be directly under the Minister of Home Affairs, then it means this same board will be de-registering, at will, any NGO whose style the government does not like," Mr Habasonda added.

NGOs are currently registered by the Registrar of Societies, a quasi-government organisation, but after registration the government has little power to restrain NGOs from voicing political dissent, and any attempt to de-register an NGO usually involves long court battles. In the proposed bill, NGOs will be obliged to register annually.

SACCORD was de-registered by the government last year, only to have its NGO status reinstated by the court. It is once more embroiled in a legal battle after the government deregistered it again this year, but this time the court has allowed it to retain its NGO status until the outcome of the legal action.

"They [government] have been failing to put an end to our activism or existence, because there was no legal basis for de-registering us for holding dissenting views [from the government]," Mr Habasonda said. "This bill reduces the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom of association; it reduces the efficacy of NGOs, because if they can't effectively criticise the state, then it means democracy is losing ground and dictatorship is now creeping in."

This is the first attempt by the Zambian government to regulate civil society since the onset of multiparty democracy 16 years ago, when Kenneth Kaunda, president since Zambia's independence from Britain in 1964, was unseated in 1991 by former trade unionist Frederick Chiluba.

Zambian civil society has been a strong force for change: it was pivotal in forcing Kaunda to abandon one-party rule and adopt multiparty democracy; helped block President Chiluba's bid for a third term of office in 2001; and, during the tenure of current President Levy Mwanawasa, has maintained pressure for the adoption of a new constitution.


- Create an e-mail alert for Zambia news
- Create an e-mail alert for Politics news
- Create an e-mail alert for Society news
- Create an e-mail alert for Human rights news


 
    Printable version


On the Afrol News front page now

Rwanda
Rwanda succeeds including citizens in formal financial sector

afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
South Sudan | Sudan
Famine warning: "South Sudan is imploding"

afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
Guinea
Panic in West Africa after Ebola outbreak in Guinea

afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
Ethiopia
Ethiopia tightens its already strict anti-gay laws

afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
Ethiopia
Ethiopia plans Africa's biggest dam

afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.



front page | news | countries | archive | currencies | news alerts login | about afrol News | contact | advertise | español 

©  afrol News. Reproducing or buying afrol News' articles.

   You can contact us at mail@afrol.com