Yali cautions Community ministry

The Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health is overstepping its boundary by questioning the authority of the Companies Act of 1996, says Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) president Andrew Ntewewe.

Organisations registered under the Companies Act are controlled by the Patents and Companies Registrations Agency (PACRA) which was established following the Act of 1996.

Mr Ntewewe said it was illegal to suggest that organisations registered under the Companies Act should be annulled for refusing to re-register under the 2009 Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) Act under the Ministry of Community Development.

“We are not registered under the Ministry of Community Development, and any such action against those registered under the PACRA Act is an abrogation of the law, and outside the prerogative of Ministry of Community Development,” he said.

He said such an act was in total disregard of an existing piece of legislature under PACRA, which is independent of the Ministry’s responsibility.

Mr Ntewewe explained that some existing organisations are registered under the PACRA while others fall under the Registrar of Societies under the Ministry of Home Affairs.

And Mr Ntewewe has accused government of failing to establish dialogue with the NGOs over the controversial NGO Act of 2009.

He said it was currently impossible to sit down with the government as the officers in charge have rejected any proposals to address the matter without any predetermined conditions.

Mr Ntewewe said efforts by the NGO Council to bring government to any form of discourse had failed as the State had always insisted on registration as a prerequisite for the meeting.

“There cannot be dialogue which is one sided, where one party is completely sidelined and conditions set by the other.

“And those conditions are in the first place against International Human Rights Conventions to which Zambia subscribes, and what kind of dialogue would it be if we first agreed to register then go and sit down to argue over the guiding rules,” he said.

Mr Ntewewe said there was no guarantee to assure +that all applications would be accepted with the terms of reference under the current NGO Act that was already prejudicial against the operations of the organisations concerned.

The current NGO Act of 2009 remains as one of the issues which the PF government has refused to address despite having campaigned against it as a retrogressive piece of legislature while in the opposition.

Several NGOs among them FODEP, Transparency International Zambia (TIZ), the Open Society Foundations (OSF) and the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) have vowed not to register under what they have described as a draconian law.

Yesterday, Community Development Emerine Kabanshi accused the NGOs of refusing to sit down with the government over the issues surrounding the 2009 NGO Act that has created heated debates between the two parties.