The appointment of new board members of the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) Board of Malawi, has stirred the NGO community with some people suspecting that the law may have been flouted in the appointment of the new board members.
But the Council for Non-Governmental Organizations in Malawi (Congoma)–which government consults whenever appointing board members of the NGO Board of Malawi–has defended the appointments, saying there is nothing wrong in the manner the new board members have been appointed.
The NGO Board of Malawi is a state owned parastatal which has the mandate to register and regulate the operations of all local and international NGOs and civil sociey organizations in the country.
And government–in a letter dated 1 October, 2020 which is signed by Secretary for Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare Roselyn Makhumula–says it has, with immediate effect, appointed seven new board members of the NGO Board of Malawi and three Ex-Officios.
The letter says the appointments are in accordance to section 7 of the NGO Act 2001 which empowers government to make such appointments in consultation with Congoma–a membership umbrella organization and coordinating body for NGOs.
The list of new board members comprises experienced professionals drawn from Congoma itself, Economics Association of Malawi (EAM), Institute of Chartered Accountants in Malawi (ICAM), Malawi Law Society (MLS) and Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR).
But some players in the NGO sector have questioned these appointments, saying the law requires that names for appointment into the board of the NGO Board of Malawi should have been nominated at a Congoma Annual General Meeting (AGM).
The concerned NGOs cite the Congoma AGM of 2018 where names of some people–including activists Emma Kaliya, Benedicto Kondowe and Timothy Mtambo–were nominated for appointment into the board of the NGO Board of Malawi.
“The NGO law has not yet been amended. And the last Congoma AGM did come up with names. There has never been another AGM after that.
“It is therefore arbitrary to appoint persons who were not nominated at the last Congoma AGM as the law currently so requires. It means the CSOs in Malawi do not know these newly appointed people,” said one NGO official, who refused to be named.
However, when contacted to comment on these assertions, Congoma Chairperson Kate Harawa, who confirmed that government indeed consulted her organization on appointment of the new board members of the NGO Board of Malawi, emphasized that the NGO Act 2001 has never been bleached.
“The act does not state exactly what Congoma should do when consulted by government. So it is at our discretion to choose to do anything we want including, sometimes, consulting the AGM.
“So, this time around, it is the Congoma governing council which sat down and proposed five names, out of which three have been appointed. After all, the status of some of the people that were nominated at the AGM two years ago, must have changed now,” explained Harawa.
She further said Congoma is pleased that government has included into the board of the NGO Board of Malawi professionals from other independent bodies, saying these people will enhance the professional work of the board as a regulator of NGOs and CSOs.
The new board members are; Shadrek Malenga-EAM, Martha Mkandawire-ICAM, Tadala Chikwezule-MLS, Daniel Mapemba-LUANAR and Sangster Nkhandwe, Nina Ghambi and Authur Chinjoka–all from Congoma.
Ex-Officios are; Secretary for Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Secretary for Justice and Secretary to the Treasury.
These will meet soon to elect the chairperson amongst themselves.