SADC CSOs calls for depoliticisation of Malawi NGO Board

Some Civil Society groups, human rights defenders and lawyers working in the realm of human rights and governance in Southern Africa have called for depolitisization of Malawi NGO board.

Munthali: Made the presentation on behalf of CHRR

Munthali: Made the presentation on behalf SADC CSOs

The grouping made these observations during their submission at Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the 57th ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights currently underway in Banjul, Gambia.

The grouping was represented by Malawi’s Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) Governance and Human Rights Advocacy Coordinator, Makhumbo Munthali during a panel discussion where focal points presenters were providing updates about the overview of the status of democracy and human rights in Africa with special focus on the situation of human rights defenders in Africa.

“We have also observed with great concern the recent steps and attempts by the Malawi government to stifle and limit the voice and space of Civil Society using a number of ways,” Munthali said.

He said Malawi government is using the politically-appointed Special Presidential Advisor on NGOs and Civil Society, Mabvuto Bamusi, to destabilize the Civil Society through “divide and rule,” by amongst other things mobilizing and funding some NGOs sympathetic to the ruling party to always rise up and counter any critical voices from the “bonafide” CSOs on human rights violations, poor service delivery, and bad governance.

According to SADC CSOs, this is contrary to Malawi government’s commitment to the African Charter and other international human rights instruments which encourage the state party to provide an enabling and conducive socio, political, economic and legal environment for the activities of the Civil Society and human rights defenders.

The statement further faults the politicization of the Malawi NGO board and the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) as Mutharika’s tools against restricting and suppressing the Civil Society space as well as instilling fear in human rights defenders who are seen as critical of government

“We have observed the use of the NGO board and NGO law to threaten the Civil Society and also restrict the activities of Non-governmental organizations especially those deemed critical of government. A good case is that of the NGO board and the Minister of Gender’s threats that they would deregister those NGOs who did not register with the NGO board despite the fact that registering with the NGO board is not mandatory under Malawi laws. However, the real targets in these baseless threats were some NGOs who had participated in a 13th January 2015 national demonstrations over the crisis state of governance, rule of law, accountability, transparency, human rights and abuse of HIV/AIDs related funds for activities that had nothing to do with HIV/AIDs initiatives,” argued Munthali.

According to Munthali, the SADC CSOs had observed with continued use of the NIB as a political tool to spy on and instil fear in human rights defenders and other critics of the government including the opposition leaders.

He cited NIB’s leaked controversial intelligence report implicating critics of the regime as conspiring to overthrow the government as a typical reminiscent of Malawi’s one-party dictatorial rule.

The CSOs urge the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights to call on Malawi government to depoliticize the NGO board, National Intelligence Bureau and the office of the Special Advisor on NGOs and Civil Society as state agents of suppressing the voice and restricting the space of Civil Society in Malawi.

“We also urge the Commission on Human and Peoples Rights to urge the Malawi government to honour its commitments to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and other international instruments which it is party to by providing protection to human rights defenders and providing a conducive and enabling political, social, economic and legal environment for the work of human rights defenders and civil society in Malawi.”

The statement also condemns human rights violations in Angola, Lesotho, South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland. The statement also calls for the reinstatement of the SADC Tribunal.

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20 thoughts on “SADC CSOs calls for depoliticisation of Malawi NGO Board”

  1. kasaila says:

    Bamusi is a she goat and Pitala ndi amene amachitanaye mathanyula.

  2. James kotoki says:

    Shoot to kill has its own consequences.thugs also shoot to kill those who shoot to kill them.

  3. James kotoki says:

    @ comment number 12 you have to be very careful with what you say.Yes Bingu killed those 20 tumbukas in That fateful month of July and that was what took his life as well.Where is he now?

  4. George Kamanga says:

    Alomwe you think you have grown wings that you own Malawi.
    Bingu indeed killed those Malawians for he was a criminal and was after to protect the stolen cash which he was hiding in the grave at ndata farm. Every criminal behave in that way. If people disturb a criminal while doing his evil business what he does is evil by eliminating those who disturb his evil actions. Bingu was a great criminal in the name of a president. But God always in His Mercies fight for the voiceless. Being s criminal bingu died like a dog killed by toddlers and worst of it his body decomposed before he was buried. This is a sign that bingu was a criminal Malawi had never had in the history of this land. Bingu went to the grave stinking while he had billions of cash which he stole and hid in different accounts across the world.
    Now Alomwe you are telling another criminal (APM) to kill those who are blocking him from stealing their taxes they contribute to develop malawi. If your criminal (APM) starts to shed blood of innocent souls then expect him to go as Jezebel the wife of King Ahab. Your criminal (APM) is already killing Malawians daily who are dying in hospitals because they are no essential drugs to treat them.

    Shame to you Alomwe for telling your criminal to kill so that he can steal the more

  5. Dr Haswel P Bandawe says:

    Let me respectfully disagree with the tone and content of the comments from other esteemed readers.
    1. To begin with, it would be informative to rebut the issues that the NGOs are raising point by point. Failure to do so does not help other readers to understand the pros and cons of what is at stake.
    2. Let us distinguish between a government and a country. Governments come and go, the country remains. If I understand it, the NGOs are criticizing what they perceive to be human rights restrictive activities of the current Government, therefore, a dialogue (Directly or through mediation) between the parities involved can clear the air. A call for Government to use repressive measures against NGO’s concerns is not the answer. Nor is name-calling and use of abusive language going to help solve/ resolve issues.

    3. Some of us lived through the difficult days of Dr Banda’s dictatorship. Those were the days of Mr Muwalo and Mr Gwede reinforced by the Malawi Youth League. It was a reign of terror. I lost many friends under mysterious circumstances. We should resolve never again to return to those terrible days. A husband was afraid to talk to a wife; siblings were scared of each other. No government has a right to silence critics by installing fear in people and issuing threats. If a law has been broken by anyone, let the legal process be followed.
    4. If a government cannot/does not abide by the constitution of country and does not implement international conventions to which it is a signitory, then such a government is tarnishing the image of the country, not the NGOs who are reminding the Government about its obligations to uphold the rule of law.

    5. In the end, it will do all of some good to respect each other’s right to speak out on issues; differ with each other in a civil manner; commit to resolving issues by encouraging communication between any opposing parties without threats of intimidation.

  6. A kent Mphepo kukonza kapansi kumeneko? Ai limbikilani mwina APM angakuganizileni.

  7. Donald Flywell Malanga says:

    The watchdogs of government have become watchrats of government. kkkkkk Come on Bogus Malawi CSOS.
    You are busy defending your pot bellies.You mollons. You are really Human left defenders.

  8. levelheaded says:

    Atumbuka inu mwandikwana mwamva. Mukumakanyera mabodza amenewa kunja mukatero nyominyomi kumabweleranso kuno. Tithana nanu aphwanga. Azungu anatinyanyala kalekale ndiye palibenso chomadyolera.

  9. levelheaded says:

    Why is the government not solving these guys? Should we be hearing this nonsence everyday from cedep and chrr? Why is this government too slow in solving problems?.they are just few. What they think everyday is denting the image of this government. Bwana president it takes brave leaders to fix problems. Why can the whole government just watch Mtambo and his homeboys destroying this government which we painfully voted into power? It took Bingu to kill those witch demonstrators to stabilise the nonsense of demonstrations, since then demonstrations are of no value nowadays. I cry for my brave president. Be quick in making decisions Mr president. Africans,Malawians to be specific start behaving after disciplined. That’s why dictators were seen to performers.

  10. mdk says:

    These guys are fast becoming a drama group coming up with nonsense all the time.why do you like tanishing the image of your country?all this for your personal interests,what a load of rubbish

  11. chinne says:

    Where Munthali is right or not but I agree on issues of using the office of presidential advisor on NGO.’s to disturb other NGO’s. This government is full of crooked people.

    I disagree with those who say tumbuka are selfish, instead lets admit that they do not fear to challenge leaders. In my area Goliati, we fail to criticise our leaders because of politics. I personally tried to disagree during preparations of by elections of a ward counsellor in my village . I saw fire with threats from people whom I never expected. That’s why during by elections you noted a number of unexpected votes going to MCP ward counsellor just to show that an increased number of People are also fed up this governance.

    So lets forget about racism. we are all one.

  12. mwana mulopwana says:

    Nosense , Mtambo munthali yet you are the same people advocating for quota system, I have never heard any name coming from either central region or southern region, if I was the man handling these NGOs, I could have smoked these CEDEP and CHRR out, anayamba ndi mwakasungula

  13. Kent Y.G. Mphepo says:

    Dear Countrymen,

    Let me declare my interest first: I am a member of the NGO Board of Malawi BUT I am not writing in my official capacity. To say the least, I find it so demeaning as a member of the Board that someone can go outside Malawi to tarnish the image of of Malawi as a nation and yet I know that these two organizations have never approached the Board to make their fears formerly known and to seek clarification on how the Board is appointed and how it carries out its regulatory activities in the country. While I respect the notion that every citizen has the right to express their mind on issues affecting our country, I would like to take exception from the accusations that CEDEP and CHRR are making against the NGO Board. In the first place it is wrong for CEDEP and CHRR to tell the world that under the laws of Malawi it is not mandatory for NGOs to register with government because this is contracy to the NGO Act of 2001. My view though is that these two organizations want to leave above the law for whatever reason they and their handlers have. As a matter of fact, I wonder what kind of nation these people want Malawi to become – a nation where the NGO sector operates without being regulated? Is there a country in the civilized world where NGOs operate without a regulator and without following the law? Can a person wake up in UK or USA without being registered with a regulator? Besides, nearly 300 NGOs in Malawi are registered with the Board under the current law, what exactly do these organizations do in Malawi that they don’t want citizens of this country and their legally constituted government not to know about? Is registration not part of being transparent and accountable? To the best of my knowledge the NGO Board has not closed any organization for the past 14 years it has been around: what makes CEDEP and CHRR think that Board spends much of its precious strategising how they will follow their activities leaving out hundreds of other players in the sector?

    Let me make the record straight: Unlike other Boards in Malawi, the NGO Board is NOT constituted by the President per se. Every three years the CONGOMA AGM (that brings together nearly 800 NGOs) nominates 11 names from among the NGOs themselves. These 11 names are forwarded to the appointing authority who is the minister responsible for social services (Gender) who appoints 7 names from the list and these 7 NGO representatives constitute the NGO Board of Malawi. In their initial meeting the 7 ladies and gentlemen elect their Chairperson and the current one is Emily Banda. It is wrong, therefore, to tell the world that people coming from the NGO sector can connive with the ruling party (in this case DPP) to punish the NGO sector that they themselves are part of. Besides, under the NGO Act of 2001, CONGOMA is supposed to hear concerns from NGOs in Malawi. Have these organizations launched a complaint with CONGOMA? Are they trying to insinuate that CONGOMA too has not been helpful because it too is politicised? Malawians, this is our country and let’s learn to engage each other professionally before we take issues across our boarders to embarrass our country. The Malawi government may have done some things wrong, but to insinuate that those of us who work day and night to ensure sanity in the NGO sector are a bunch of political stooges is not only demeaning, but also a serious sign of unprofessionalism. The NGO Board is audited every year and the report is presented during the AGM. Unfortunately, organizations that are not registered cannot attend the AGM and cannot appreciate where money for the Board comes from and how it is spent. These Board members do not receive honoraria like their countersparts on other Boards do for the same reason that NGOs don’t want government to have influence on its decisions. Records are their for Malawians to see. Let me, therefore, request CEDEP and CHRR to first contact CONGOMA and the NGO Board before going public, let alone, outside Malawi to speak about their own regulator. They can do better.

  14. Mathanyula says:

    The problem with CHRR is that you are looking for funds from Human Right Defenders and the only way is to create situations that all is now well in your country that’s why you can cook stories like “death threats” and attacking NGO Board and other institutions. Learn to coexist. The NGO Board will continue doing its work regardless of who is there. Just concentrate on having same sex using the anus than fighting your country. You have become laughing stocks and no one takes you seriously you selfish penguins

  15. choonadi says:

    And by the way the article heading is wrong. Content of article suggests it is Munthali speaking his mind at SADC CSO meeting. This is the same old call from politically motivated Malawi CSOs and not SADC. Munthali’s CSOs must also depoliticise themselves before gvt-aligned CSOs (if there is any such CSOs) can heed this call.

  16. choonadi says:

    Have these CSOs made any significant noise and called for Chakwela’s resignation from leader of opposition position in Parliament for accepting an unnecessary expenditure of nearly K260million on only 4 people (In the spirit of austerity [despite entitlement to the same] as Chakwela himself has been preaching)? Couldnt they have bought themselves K6million vehicles each and save the rest for additional medicine purchase for hospitals? How many new primary school teachers or nurses would be recruited and employed for how many years to serve poor Malawians if this these gluttonous saintly leaders would have denied self in verity? STOP YOUR HYPOCRICY! If you were honest CSOs with Malawi at heart, Malawi would not have been the same. There are British and American interests in Malawi which do not serve the interests of Malawians. You see this but you don’t criticize USA or Britain for those interests. Why? Who do you serve? Malawians? Stop using Malawians as your cause. Your god is your belly.

  17. phodos says:

    As long as the accusation against government is coming from the Tumbuka, my support is likely to shrink as it does with Billy Mayaya. Tumbukas are selfish. They can not say anything good about their government. Unfortunately Malawians are now jack up these days, thus why Billy Mayaya is now going on the road for demonstration alone and few members of his family.Billy Mayaya was laughed at like a fool. Nobody looked at him during demonstration. He looked a stupid for the national course as if it was personal. Just go through Selina Nkowani’s observation on page 4 of sunday nation. Infact I saw Nkowani in the demo. She covered the demonstration as journalist. Infact Malawians are tired of these demos and the Tumbukas act.We are living peacefully in Malawi. We dont want anybody to disturb our freedoms. On this day of demos all the CSOs were on the road with their views. They were serving the goals of their organizations.While other CSOs had rights to demonstrate against the government others had their rights supporting the government. That is what happens in democratic country. Everyone’s opinion must be heard. No body in this country has the right or standard for putting SCOS as bonafide or nonbofide SCOS. So which group of SCOs was right or bonafide as you put it is beyond the knowledge of you Munthali unless you have supporting ways of identifying right SCOs in the constitution of Malawi. It appears you are confused, because you are saying that the government is responsible for providing economic envirnoment and at the same time you are blaming the government for funding some SCOs(if it is true since it is just your opinion). Can you recoil the equation of government being responsible for providing economic environment against your claim of government funding the CSOs. Can you clarify this by taking the following questions:
    When does the government be responsible for proving economic environment?
    How does it do that?
    Munthali you must be very stupid.
    Sooner or later Malawians will lose interest completely in you.Ask Mayaya.He knows where Malawians are in terms of holding national demos. About 20 Malawians who could be breathing by now, are under the 6 ft down from 20 July demo. Yet you all the SCOs executives, you are breathing fresh air till today.

  18. Anganile says:

    I’m just anxious to know the names of employees at CHRR. Those that are aware, please let me know the names and their places of origin and their positions organogram sort of. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

  19. choonadi says:

    The same language I have hear before. It is memorized and std language in human rights issues. This is nonsense. I wonder if these human rights officials really know whose interests they serve. What naivity! Who is a human rights defender in this world? What we have are self-preserving, self-interest defenders. Look what USA is doing in Syria several thousands of kilometers from its homeland? Look what is is doing in the seas close to China again several thousands of kilometers from USA. Thousands and thousands of civilian families displaced and in dire need for no good reason other than external interference. Where were these CSOs when former president Joyce Banda was criss-crossing the country almost every week squandering tax-payers’ money for no easily justifiable reason. Where were CSOs when JB was in power, a very opportune time to call for expediting of the Chasowa case, the July 20 and the Mutharika cash-gate and even the Muluzi case? Where were these hypocrites? Why do they now expect “the guilty” to investigate himself? JB was in power for more that 18 months (with massive donor goodwill) and that was an opportune time to get all these cases and issues of signing of table mountain nonsense. Can’t you dispel your hypocricy and politically motivated and supposed enthusiasm in human rights for once?..Be patriotic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. jmc says:

    As long as the source of this information is from cedep and CHRR, Genuine and patriotic Malawians will not be side to it. We can tell by the nature of issues being raised that these are the voices behind this statement. Kkkkk, Malawii CSOs becoming minor/ smaller in their influence over time. Get matured and become more objective once again, else u will erode all the trust that we local populace had on u. Ua fast losing that coz of ur personalisation and hate over individuals. Become mature andd tackle issues. Stop targeting pipo, start targeting issues! Weak CSOs just as the weak Malawi everything!kkk

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