Zambia NGOs seek court interpretation of controversial law

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LUSAKA – p Eight Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Zambia, on Thursday petitioned a court seeking an interpretation of a controversial law that seeks to regulate their .

NGO Act of 2009, which the current government wants to implement to check the operations of the organisations, has brought divisions in the two parties.

According to the from the group, it said government has directed organisations to register the law, and has threatened to deregister anyone that will not comply.

Some organisations have refused to register, saying it was a bad law meant to stifle their operations.

In a petition filed in the Lusaka Court, the organisations have argued that a number of provisions in the law contravene constitutional provisions of the country’s laws.

Among the contentious issues in the law are that the NGOs are required to apply for registration after five years, disclose their sources of funding as well as the wealth of senior officials in the organisations.

Other issues are that a government-appointed board should approve areas where the organisations will be operating from, as well as submitting annual information on their activities.

A source said last week that government was ready to dialogue with the organisations regarding some of the contentious issues in the law.

So far, 300 NGOs have successfully registered and their is being processed, it added.

But big organisations such as watchdog, Transparency International Zambia, have refused to register under the controversial law, saying it is a “bad law’’. (Xinhua/NAN)