Data and Evidence Halt NGO De-registration Threats in Zanzibar

Tuesday, September 1, 2020
Engagement meeting with officers from Registrar of NGOs on re-registration fact findings January 24, 2020

In 2017, the European Union funded the Government of Zanzibar to streamline the operations of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and introduce an online registration process. Before this, NGO Registration was housed in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, while NGO Coordination was housed in the Ministry of Constitution and Legal Affairs. Through this funding, the government merged the two functions and introduced the Registrar of NGOs under the President’s Office. As a result of this change, NGOs needed to re-register with the Registrar’s office; and the Registrar directed NGOs to re-register through an online system or face de-registration. Unfortunately, when the window of re-registration closed in June 2019, only a small number of NGOs complied with the requirement. Although the government re-opened the re-registration to July 2020, re-registration continued at a very low rate and the responsible Minister and the Registrar issued a series of de-registration threats against NGOs.

To respond, the Association of NGOs Zanzibar (ANGOZA) received a Rapid Response Grant under the USAID-funded Data Driven Advocacy (DDA) Activity to advocate against de-registration threats and to explore the reasons for slow re-registration. ANGOZA led DDA’s Zanzibar Working Group members and other NGOs in conducting a fact-finding mission. The fact-finding mission indicated that only 20% of NGOs in Zanzibar re-registered. The number was low because the online re-registration system was not user friendly, most NGOs did not understand the system and the government’s intentions behind the process, and some did not have access to the internet.

On January 24, 2020, ANGOZA and the NGOs presented the findings of the fact-finding mission to the Registrar of NGOs and urged the government to stop the threats, allow paper-based application, and allow ANGOZA to provide technical guidance and clarifications to NGOs. The government accepted all requests and has since acted in line with their commitments. As a result of improved process clarity, the use of paper-based applications, and the absence of de-registration threats, the speed of NGOs re-registration has significantly increased. “Deregistration threats due to re-registration requirements are now over. The re-registration speed is increased because many NGOs are now clear with the process and those that do not have access to the internet can still submit paper-based applications,’’ says ANGOZA Executive Director, Hassan Khatib Juma.

As a next step, DDA is supporting ANGOZA to assess the results of this work and, if needed, advocate for more time for NGOs to re-register.

Last updated: October 26, 2020

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