World NGO Day: Panos calls for strengthened civil society, government collaboration
Lusaka,27th February 2023: As the World commemorates the World NGO day, Panos Institute Southern Africa commends the Government of the Republic of Zambia for taking bold steps to strengthen its collaboration with civil society organizations in the delivery of development services to the people.
The World NGO Day is commemorated every year, on 27th February to recognize, celebrate and honour the fundamental contributions and profound impact of NGOs. This year, the day is being commemorated under the Theme: The role and influence of NGOs in advancing human rights and achieving sustainable goals.
As a civil society organization that works to foster citizen centred and driven development, Panos would like to see improved policy and work environment for NGOs to conduct their business without undue hindrance by government. Over the years, NGOs in Zambia have witnessed and experienced varying relations with successive governments resulting from attempts to limit the role of NGOs in the country through politically driven decisions and actions.
It is gratifying to note that the Government has shown political will to review and improve the NGO Act of 2009 which has been a source of misunderstandings and strained relations between government and NGOs at the expense of development service delivery to citizens through combined efforts.
In a democracy like Zambia, NGOs keep government excesses in check and ensure that the tenets of democratic governance such as human rights in their various forms and equitable and inclusive development for all are upheld. NGOs do not just speak on behalf of the poor and marginalized populations but facilitate their participation in governance and development processes, holding leaders to account on delivery of public services and human rights.
Further, some NGOs are involved in direct service provision in various areas of human need such as education, health and humanitarian assistance, thereby complimenting government programmes in these areas. Government should therefore should not view NGOs as adversaries but as partners in development.
Panos is expectant that the policy and legal reforms to streamline operations of NGOs in the country will not be politically motivated to restrict the work of NGOs but enhance their complimentary contribution to improved public service delivery and achievement of both local and international development commitments such as the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030.
Executive Director, Panos Institute Southern Africa