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400 NGOs register with ministry

KABANSHI

YANDE SYAMPEYO, Lusaka
OVER 400 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have registered with the Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health under the new and contentious NGO Act of 2009.
Some NGOs have resolved not to register until all the necessary amendments on the proposed “unconstitutional Act” of 2009 are resolved.
The NGOs claim that the act is retrogressive and is not in their best interest.
But Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health Emerine Kabanshi said the registration process is ongoing and dialogue with NGOs over contentious issues has continued.
Ms Kabanshi said in an interview on Monday that a German organisation, GIZ, has been engaged as a consultant in the proposed amendment of the act.
“The NGOs have continued to register and the process is on-going, and so far, over 400 have registered.
“However, we have continued to dialogue with the CSOs over the contentious issues, and in fact, the two parties are meeting this Thursday to continue with talks over the matter,” Ms Kabanshi said.
She said so far, Government has not de-registered any NGO as a punitive measure, but organisations are obliged to register and make themselves accountable.
The minister said it is the responsibility of Government to develop policies and ensure that implementers, who include NGOs, are held accountable.
Ms Kabanshi said civil society organisations (CSO) that operate in remote parts of the country need to ensure that they are accountable to both Government and the communities they serve.
“We have to know what they are doing and so it is not a question of them deciding to register or not because they have to be accountable.
“I believe if NGOs are properly accountable, we can effectively reduce poverty and reduce the high mortality rates, especially in rural areas,” Ms Kabanshi said.
The NGOs believe the NGO Act is in conflict with Article 21 of the current constitution, arguing that it impinges on internal affairs of organisations as each CSO operates on different mandates in accordance with their own priorities.



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