Zambia: NGOs Threaten to Sue Govt

SOME Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have threatened legal action against the Government over threats of deregistration for refusing to register under the new NGO Act.

More than 300 NGOs have so far registered under the new NGO Act but major organisations have refused to comply amid warnings of deregistration from the Government.

Non-Governmental Coordinating Council (NGOCC) and the Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP), that have both refused to register under the new law, say they may seek legal redress if the Government continues its threats to deregister them.

NGOCC chairperson Beatrice Grillo said her organisation had received a notice from the Ministry of Community Development for it to show cause why it should not be deregistered.

"But with this threat, we will be forced to seek legal interpretation should the Government continue with threats to de-register the organisation," said Ms Grillo.

"We do not know what the Government means by deregistration because we have never registered under the NGO Act. What we know is that we can only deregister if we had been registered under the NGO Act. So we will seek the court's interpretation should the Government continue," she said

She said it was unreasonable for the Government to threaten NGOCC with deregistration when her organisation had never registered under the NGO Act.

She, however, said NGOCC was ready to register under the NGO Act once the contentious issues under the Act were addressed.

"We are not refusing to be regulated, in fact it is a good thing but there are a number of contentious issues under the NGO Act which we feel are not in good faith," she said.

FODEP executive director Macdonald Chipenzi said his organisation had a number of options, including going to court.

Mr Chipenzi, who also confirmed that his organisation had received the notice from the Ministry of Community Development, said his FODEP was registered under the Societies ACT.

"As for now we are just observing the situation but when we are left with no choice we shall act," he said.

Community Development Minister Emerine Kabanshi urged the NGOs to first follow the law by registering under the NGO Act before discussing the contentious issues.

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