Council for Non Governmental Organisations in Malawi (CONGOMA) has revealed that NGOs, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) and state sponsored Forum for National Development (FND) are not registered, a development which it says is a gross violation of the NGO Act.
CONGOMA says the NGO Act stipulates that NGOs in Malawi must register with the Ministry of Justice and the office of the Registrar General to acquire a legal face and thereafter, register with CONGOMA, the NGO Board whose role is to coordinate the work of all NGOs in the country.
Speaking during an interface meeting with sector networks and district NGO and civil society networks held in Lilongwe, CONGOMA chairperson Steve Duwa said his organization is working with relevant stakeholders to stop this ‘careless’ breach of the NGO Act.
“Even skipping a single step of the registration process as stipulated by the NGO Act, is an anomaly. From our perspective, HRDC and FND are among many sector networks and organisations that are not registered as NGOs,” Duwa said.
“However, we realise that HRDC and FND are forums of civil society players exercising their constitutional freedom of association to tackle issues of their common interest. This is a very tricky scenario.”
According to Duwa, some sector networks such as NGO Gender Coordination Network and Malawi Electoral Support Network at least have a legal face, a gesture, he said, others must begin to emulate.
A legal face, among other important things, means an organization can sue someone in a court of law or be sued.
Duwa’s remarks came after some participants to the interface meeting questioned the registration status of HRDC and FND, wondering on what basis the two organisations were operating in the country.
But HRDC spokesperson Gift Trapence dismissed the accusations, saying HRDC is a forum of individual human rights defenders and citizens who have the right to associate and assemble.
“Take note that membership to CONGOMA is voluntary and not mandatory which is in line with the right to associate,” Trapence told Nyasa Times in an interview.
In his reaction, FND chairperson Fryson Chodzi concurred with Trapence, saying CONGOMA is just an affiliate body which an organization can cho ose to join or not.
“CONGOMA is an affiliation body and one has an option whether to affiliated or not. As for FND, it is registered with appropriate legislation in Malawi and operate within the legal framework of the country,” he said.
During the interface meeting, Duwa urged the sector networks and district NGO and civil society networks to unite for the common good of Malawians whom, he said, are suffering.
“We claim that we represent the people. Let our actions reflect that we truly serve the people by providing solutions that would address poverty and many other mischiefs that impinge on their success,” Duwa said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :