Saturday, July 11, 2009

Rev Matyola urges disclosure of assets by NGOs

Rev Matyola urges disclosure of assets by NGOs
Written by Masuzyo Chakwe
Saturday, July 11, 2009 3:41:39 PM

ZAMBIA Council for Social Development (ZCSD) executive secretary Reverend Malawo Matyola has said non-governmental organisations must be willing to declare their assets the same way they have been calling on public service officers to do so.

Giving reflections on the NGO bill, Rev Matyola, who said the 2009 NGO bill bore little difference from the 2007 bill the government had withdrawn however appreciated the new provisions where the board shall prescribe rules for the declaration of assets and liabilities of officers of non-governmental organisations.

“This is a new provision from the 2007 bill and on the whole, it is our considered view that this provision in itself is not an impeding one in the work of NGOs especially in view of the principle of accountability and transparency.

And even more so is the fact that most Non Governmental Organisations have been calling upon public service officers to declare their assets and it would therefore follow that personnel within NGOs must be ready and willing to live the virtues that they have been calling upon others to live,” he said.

Rev Matyola said some provisions of the new bill, if enacted, would have implications on the work of non-governmental organisations in Zambia. He said under the 2009 bill, the minister had wide discretionary powers.

Rev Matyola said the definition as provided for in the bill where non-governmental organisations were defined more in terms of compartments was unacceptable on the premise that such could limit the scope and nature of their work and forms a good platform for the arbitrarily de-registration by the authorities on flimsy grounds.

He said the composition of the board was something that needed to be debated.

Rev Matyola said although the bill was silent over the fifty-fifty per centum basis, it had nevertheless provided for equal gender representation to the board.

He said the 2009 bill provided that the board shall among its many functions, register non-governmental organisations in Zambia.

Rev Matyola said it was their view that this was an administrative responsibility that the Office of the Registrar could competently discharge and not the board and thus must be removed.

He said the current bill also provided that the board shall recommend the rules and procedures for audit of the accounting of non-governmental organisations.

Rev Matyola said the current bill provided that the board shall approve the Code of Conduct as prepared by a Council of non-governmental organizations

He said the bill was also not clear on registration of non-governmental organisations after their formation.

Rev Matyola said the section where a non-governmental organisation must specify the areas of operations of its activities sought to restrict their work by requiring them to first state at registration where they would operate from, saying this could also be a ground for refusing to register or for de-registering it.

He also said the bill stated that the non-governmental organisations shall specify the possible sources of their funding to the Registrar, noting that this would become a ground for either registration or otherwise of a non-governmental organisation.

Rev Matyola said the bill provides that the board can reject the application for registration of a non-governmental organisation if it failed to define what public interest it was established for.

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