Government to suspend NGO Act

Government is set to suspend the current registration of Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) with the Ministry of Community Development pending proposed amendments to the Act that guides the existence and operations of civil society.

Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflections (JCTR) national coordinator Father Leonard Chiti said Minister of Justice Wynter Kabimba has promised to look into their concerns over the NGO Act in its current form.

Fr Chiti said civil society movements have welcomed government’s expression of their willingness to address the controversial Act which has created a lot of friction between government and NGOs.

“We had a very fruitful meeting with the Minister of Justice, and we hope that he will consult with Community Development Minster Joseph Katema to suspend the current registration process designed to be done within 90 days,” Fr. Chiti said.

He explained that a number of CSOs sought audience with the Justice Minster concerning the roadmap of the current Constitution making process including matters relating to referendum as the official adoption method for the new law of the land.

He said there was need for government and the NGOs to agree on what amendments could be worked on in the Act as well as the process of implementation.

“It would be a welcome move for the government to accept suggested amendments to the NGO Act,” Fr. Chiti said.

And Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) president Andrew Ntewewe said his organisation was happy with the response from government on the NGO Act.

Mr. Ntewewe said the NGOs who attended the meeting on June 12 were delighted with the Minister’s comments on their comments about the registration of NGOs under the current Act.

“We are very optimistic with Mr. Kabimba’s sentiments over the NGO Act. We are hopeful that something could be worked out soon, and we could have a new law that should guide and protect the civil society movements in the country,” Mr. Ntewewe said.

A number of NGOs among them JCTR, YALI, ActionAid Zambia, Forum for Democratic Process (FODEP), Women in Law in Southern Africa (WiLSA), and Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) held a meeting with Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba on the roadmap for the current Constitution making process.

Others included Southern African Centre for Constructive Resolution of Disputes (Saccord), Panos, the Land Alliance, Zambia Civic Education Association (ZCEA) and Operation Young Vote (OYV).