Association

CSOs in Zambia experience a regulatory patchwork, with different laws and ministries regulating the formation and operation of different types of CSO. Some of the major laws on CSOs have colonial era origins and are oriented towards the control of civil society. Challenges include the granting of broad discretionary powers for state officials, vague terminology about what is permissible in the public or national interest and excessive sanctions for non-compliance. The controversial NGO Act of 2009 sought to extend the state’s control over CSOs. Among its troubling provisions were a compulsory registration requirement that also demanded the submission of a recommendation letter from a government department, the need for registered CSOs to receive prior approval for their activities, and the granting of wide-ranging discretionary powers to public officials. Many CSOs boycotted registration under the Act, while the government pressured funders not to give grants to non-registered CSOs. A group of CSOs brought legal proceedings and this led to an out-of-court settlement in which it was agreed to suspend the Act, pending a review of its impacts and possible amendments. Negotiations on CSO self-regulation remain ongoing.