‘Banning SACCORD is a bad precedent’

Transparency International Zambia says the deregistration of the Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) is a
continuation of the victimization of civil society organizations.

TIZ Executive Director Goodwell Lungu says the the intended deregistration is unfortunate and is a wrong signal to the democratic standing of Zambia.

He said the judgment if not overturned on appeal will set a bad precedent in terms of freedoms of associations and expression Zambians ought to enjoy.
According to Lungu, the verdict will further narrow the political space available for civil society organizations to participate freely in national development.

He claimed that the judgment completely ignored Section 13(3) of the Societies Act which he believes is specific in protecting and ensuring procedural fairness. He said that the Act provides that prior to cancelling any registration under the provisions of section 13,the registrar shall notify his intention to the society concerned and shall give such society an opportunity to submit reasons why the registration should not be cancelled.

He said TIZ finds the ruling by the High Court as a perpetuation of the rather unfair and unfortunate antagonistic approach towards Civil Society Organizations by the current Government.
He added that the ruling adds impetus to the continued victimization of civil society organizations particularly governance NGOs who constructively criticize Government for non-performance or poor prioritization of national development issues.

Lungu further said that the fight against corruption and promotion of good governance in Zambia has reached a crossroad and therefore the deregistering of any of the NGOs cripples the efforts and strides towards building a culture of transparency and integrity in Zambia.
He said SACCORD has been one of the few independent civil society organizations that was key in promoting good governance and conflict resolution and therefore throwing out the application by the high court is a drawback to the civil society fraternity.

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