Tuesday, August 18, 2009
IRIN news service has reported that Zambia joined a growing list of countries seeking to restrict civil society through controversial legislation. Although one of the stated objectives of the Zambian bill is to enhance the transparency, accountability and performance of NGOs, questions regarding the motives behind this push by the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) government, which has held power in the country since 1991, are being raised. Key provisions of the bill restrict the independence of NGOs and subject them to excessive and unwarranted controls. If the bill becomes law it would empower the Interior Minister to form a 10-member board, comprised of government members and two representatives from civil society, which would “receive, discuss and approve the code of conduct [of NGOs], and ... provide policy guidelines to NGOs for harmonizing their activities to the national development plan of Zambia.” A more detailed analysis of the provisions of the bill in Zambia is available at http://www.iccsl.org/pubs/Detailed_additional_Analysis_of_NGO_Bill_in_Zambia_by_Mandeep_Tiwana.pdf.