Malawi NGO board has no powers to ban CSOs, says lawyer

Legal activist Justin Dzonzi has said NGO board has no mandate to deregister nongovernmental organisations which have failed to register with the board.

Dzonzi:  Legal pitfalls

Dzonzi: Legal pitfalls

Dzonzi said the law is evasive and ambiguous on the issue making it difficult for the board to win a court case should some deregistered NGOs decide to seek legal redress.

“Such a decision can be challenged in a court of law. For instance, the law says that NGOs should first register with the Council for Non Governmental Organisations in Malawi yet Congoma is a voluntary registering organisation, which means Congoma has no powers to force NGOs register with it because Congoma was not established under the Act of parliament,” said Dzonzi.

He said therefore if NGOs refuse to register with Congoma they cannot register with the NGO Board which is a legal flaw.

Dzonzi also pointed out that the Republican Constitution provides for freedom of association therefore forcing NGOs to be members of Congoma which has no legal backing would be legally problematic.

NGO Board vice chairman Maziko Matemba said recently there are 500 NGOs in Malawi half of whom are not registered.

Dzonzi however said registering the NGOs would enhance transparency and accountability amongst them.

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9 thoughts on “Malawi NGO board has no powers to ban CSOs, says lawyer”

  1. Team Malawi is a lost country says:

    While I agree that the Malawi’s law on this subject is ambiguous; however, if you are to read the NGO Board Act it has a clear clause on registering and de-registering NGO. very clear and this has nothing to do with CONGOMA. In fact the writer of this article didn’t do enough reading on the matter.

  2. bella Banda says:

    This impunity is not good, really NGOs can operate in vacuum!!. let us respect laws, how do we go out there and start demanding parliamentarians and cabinet, civil servant to be accountable when NGOs think that they are not accountable to anyone. but to themselves so that they can continue misusing resources. Those who are speaking with arrogance may have been there during the time this law was being put in place and you never raised what you are raising today.
    Citizens that cannot respect laws of the of their country are a deterrent to development, order and sanity of the state operations.

  3. J. Phiri says:

    Hede # 5, you must have never worked or operated a local NGO so you are stupidly calling an NGO that has no money bogus just because you are dull. An NGO does not mean money but idea, of course with a hope that you may get funding to fulfil the idea which is not always the case and that is why you will find that CILIC and Women’s Voice were very vibrant when they were being funded but are no longer active as they have no funding now. Should they be called bogus now? And there is nothing like they misappropriated but donors also have a time when they will fund and when they will stop. They don’t have unlimited funds. So umbuli wa ku NGO board is all over kwenikweni munthu wamba angatani

  4. Che Chipongwe says:

    CONGOMA has raised membership fees from Mk 54,000 to Mk 174,000 akuti they are pegging their price to a dollor and yet in my 20years + working in NGO sector have never heard of any NGO that was supported by CONGOMA to raise funds.

    Mr. Muhone and Matemba must understand that CONGOMA is an NGO that was also registered under NGO act like any other NGO in Malawi so there is no justification whatsoever that NGOs should be struggling to fundraise for CONGOMA just for it to be registered NO!. CONGOMA must find its own resources to operate IF NOT then NO NGO will register with NGO Board or else we will battle it out in court.

    NGO board must stand on its own no attachment to CONGOMA, you people must understand that CONGOMA is an NGO that has no authority to steal money from fellow NGOs.

  5. Hede says:

    Mwana mayi, are you talking about K35,000 or K350,000. You mean an NGO worth its name can fail to source K35,000? Unless it is bogus!

  6. sama says:

    Whether NGO Board has powers or not,what is important is that they must comply with the regulations. Some of these NGOs play double standards whereby they want to be seen as angels on the outside and yet they are full of dirty linen.In most of these NGOs there is rampant financial mismanagement, nepotism, cronyism, and even corruption.

  7. Odandaula says:

    I hate the way some Malawians portray themselves before the public. NGO Board is one of the failed institutions. Our organization registered with NGO Board in 2013 but since that time, we have never been engaged in any of their activities (if at all they organize one). Only threats and calls for membership fees are the communications we get from them. The problem is that the NGO Board thinks its certificate plays magic when an organization wants to get funding. That is wrong perception. We actually struggle to get funded and if you continue with your useless noise, we will expose you. And there is MacBain Mkandawir.. akapita kunja amauza ma donor coalitions kuti ku Malawi kulibe NGO yodziwika koma YONECO!!!!!! I mean, this is bad. This Tumbuka man mxiiiiiii mbuzi ya munthu.

  8. Same same says:

    I disagree with the decision also i magine CONGOMA registration is k87000 plus processing fee of´k5000 while NGO BOARD WILL NEED K100000 and all are annual and yet an NGO sweats to raise to assist the vulnerable whether in kind or cash. The problem is that NGO BOARD AND Congoma have HIGH FEES

  9. Mwana Mayi says:

    Ameneyo ndiye Dzonzi, a real think-thank not a Maziko Matemba ongokhulupilira za u dictator just becoz you want to milk timaNGO tosaukati kuti muzipatsana ma allowances ku NGO board from tindalama toti the local NGO’s will get from their personal sweat not from the NGO as the NGO’s have no money. We say: remove the K35,000 requirement and the need to be a member of CONGOMA then ask the NGO’s to come for registration. They will come en-masse inunso kuchita kuboweka. Of course most of them will not bring the auditted accounts – what do you audit when you have no money? They will also not bring activities done during the previous year – how could they carry out the activities without money. They will simply say they assist in lobbying as they are looking for resources. And mind you they are entitled to this as citizens – we call it Citizen Partiicipation but don’t always attach money to these things ndiye muzionetsa ubulutu ndikudzikonda

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