Choma NGOs refuse to register

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Choma NGOs refuse to register

Choma, Feb 4, 2014, ZANISNon  Governmental organizations in Choma have resolved not register under the NGO Act No 16 of 2009 until government repeals the registrar of Societies Act that legalizes their operations.

Youth Development Organization (YDO) Executive director Partner Siabutuba says the provisions of the NGO Act are criminalized thereby hindering the free participation of civil society organizations (CSO) in the country’s development agenda.

Speaking in an interview with journalists in Choma today, Mr Siabutuba said the NGO Act No 16 of 2009 provided strict regulations on the operations of CSOs to an extent of criminalizing the NGO leaders who failed to observe the requirement of the Act.

He said the Act does not facilitate the participation of NGOs into the political, social and economic development of the country which are cardinal for good governance to flourish.

“We as NGOs are not opposing government regulations but we shall not register because we want to help government do the right thing, repeal the registrar of societies Act and let us be guided by one single law ”, he said.

Mr Siabutuba said YDO was legally registered under the registrar of Societies which enables him to continue his operations without any interference.

He said that the implementation of the NGO Act by the PF government was a complete disappointment to the Zambian people who received viable services from CSOs.

“Prior to the 2011 general election the PF government promised not to implement the NGO act of 2009 simply because they noticed that the Act had irregularities”, he said

Mr Siabutuba however noted that Government should instead call for partnership with the CSOs rather than strict regulations that are detrimental to the development of the nation.

He said NGOs had a cardinal role to play in complementing government efforts of reducing poverty and enhancing good governance hence the need for a tripartite dialogue that would foster development.

“The unnecessary heated battle between Government and CSOs is consuming productive time for dialogue between the two parties on issues of development”, he said.

Mr Siabutuba added that the provisions of the new Act were in conflict with the Registrar of Societies Act and therefore CSOs should be given the liberty to choose which Act they wished to belong to.

He charged that the level of NGO engagement before the implementation of the Act was not objective which had led to non- acceptance of the Act by most NGOs countrywide.

Mr Siabutuba said the Act was also threatening continued support from the international donors who had become agitated to fund NGOs in the country.

He disclosed that his organization had received an email from one the donors citing that no funds would be channelled to the organization for the Reproductive Health Project until the NGO Act scrambles were addressed.

Meanwhile ,Choma District Community Development Officer Esther Situmbwa said only four NGOs in Choma district had registered under the NGO Act No 16 of 2009 through her office.

Ms Siyumbwa who is also the Southern Province focal Point person for NGOs said her office was the registration centre in the Province but only 12  NGOs had registered through her office.

“We have about 30 NGOs in the District but only four in Choma district and 12 in the entire province have complied with the requirement to register under the NGO Act No 16 of 2009, but am told some NGOs operating in Choma registered through the community Development office in Lusaka”, she said.

Ms Siyumbwa said as a department various sensitization meetings were conducted to all NGOs in the district on the need to register and that no NGO will be in a position to claim ignorance of the law.

She noted that since the deadline for registration was on 3rd February 2014, her office was awaiting a ministerial statement on the next procedures for NGOs that had not registered.

Civil Society organizations were given a 90 day ultimatum to register under the NGO act N0 16 of 2009 which was further extended to February  3, 2014.

Most NGOs have however resolved not  to comply with this requirement until all the necessary amendments on the NGO Act No 16 of 2009 are resolved.