The Democratic Party (DP) has lamented that the only reason why the Registrar of Societies wants to deregister the party is because it has invited former Minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba to be its 2021 candidate.

DP was responding to a letter from the Chief Registrar of Societies Thandiwe S.P Mhende who had informed the party, through its national secretary Evans Chilambwe that it planned to deregister on grounds that its secretariat is defunct.

“Reference in made to your minute dated 27th April, 2018 and 3rd May, 2018 in which you requested this office to, among other things, normalise your registration status and issue you with a duplicate certificate of registration. You may wish to note that your requests were given careful consideration and a thorough analysis of your registration record was done. Further, a random inspection was conducted on your party secretariat on 17th and 18th May, 2018,” stated Mhende.

“In view of the forgoing, the Office has reason to believe that your society ceased to exist. In this regard, I hereby notify you of my intention to cancel the registration of your society in accordance with section 13 (2) (d) of the Societies Act, Cap 119 of the laws of Zambia. Meanwhile, you have seven days from the date of receipt of this letter in which to submit reasons why your registration should not be cancelled.”

But in a letter dated June 4, 2018, DP National Secretary Precious Ntambu lamented that the Registrar of Societies was being deliberately acrimonious towards any party associated with Kalaba.

“We wish to respectfully and yet sadly surmise that there us an increasing propensity, if not a trend, for your good office to adopt a malevolent approach to handling cases involving statutory societies that appertain or associate themselves with Hon Harry Kalaba. Illustrative of the foregoing is the manner in which the case of the proposed Zambian Democrats was handled and now our party, Democratic Party which has invited him to be our Presidential Candidate for 2021. In the premise, we enjoin you that, the law pauses an obligation for your good office to act not only fairly but to exercise any power that falls within your province prudently,” Ntambu wrote.

She argued that the DP secretariat was not defunct, but even if it was, that was not a basis to deregister a political party as this was a finable offense.

“There was an amnesty period given to all registered political parties that were in default of paying their statutory fees. Thus, we took advantage of the said period and paid our annual returns outstanding as at that time for the period 2011 to 2017 on the 17th of April 2018 which we have attached herewith for your easy reference. Suffice to state that the said returns were accepted by your office and the payment for the aforesaid period without any query…further, as required by case of law, we call upon your good office to take judicial notice to how active we have been in the media both print and online, in our quest to address issues that affect many Zambians in accordance with our objectives. To this end, we have attached herewith, the press statements issued on sundry occasions,” Ntambu wrote.

“Thus even assuming without conceding that we are operating without a registered office. We verily believe that the same is not a ground for cancellation of registration within the meaning of the Act. This is because the maximum penalty for the aforesaid offense is a fine. We are fortified in making the foregoing averments by the provisions of section 34(3)(C) of the Act…TWe are of the considered view that in the unlikely event that your good office takes issue with our registered office as being inactive, then the appropriate punishment prescribed by the Act under 34 (3)(C) is a fine.”

She insisted that the society did not have sufficient ground to warrant de-registration.

“Further, we have eloquently endeavored to make all statutory payments required by your office hitherto as adverted above. The aforesaid payments have been duly accepted by your good office. We therefore form the view that this alone is sufficient proof of the existence of our party. More so that your letter presupposes that we ceased to exist from the date of your letter, the same being the 23rd of May, 2018, despite all our activities and adherence to the statutory requirements,” stated Ntambu.

“We verily believe that this is not an appropriate case for your good office to exercise its discretion to make an order of cancellation of registration.”