CSOs petition Speaker on draconian NGO Bill: ‘It should not be tabled’

Some civil society organisations (CSOs) have petitioned Parliament, asking that the Non-Governmental Organisations (Amendment) Act, 2018 should not be tabled  as observed by governance expert and commentator  Makhumbo Munthali who  called for wider consultations before tabling the piece of legislation whose effects  will be far wider than just on NGOs as it will shrink the freedoms of Malawians and allow the government to control them.

Kawale: Received the petition

The CSOs have said the Amendment Act is not a product of a thorough, inclusive and democratic process of consultation and is  unwarranted State encroachment on civic space, is vague and has overly broad provisions.

Through the Council for Non-Governmental Orgnisations (Congoma) and Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), the CSOs argue that they  feel government, through the Amendment, is treating them like terrorists, yet they help the State in various development endeavours.

The petition, presented to Parliament on Friday, argues that the Amendment Act creates a monster regulator and coordinator of NGOs in the proposed NGO Regulatory Authority, with absolute powers without accountability checks.

“It whittles down the role of Congoma–a registered trust—and grabs its registered mandate and transfers it to the proposed NGO Regulatory Authority. In other words, the Amendment Act spells the demise of CSO activism,” it reads in part.

Besides asking that the Amendment should not be tabled, the CSOs have also demanded that the Amendment Act should include seats to be occupied by members of the NGO sector in the proposed NGO Authority.

They further demand that the role of Congoma, as an NGO coordinating body, should be retained, arguing, the proposed Regulatory Authority cannot represent and promote the collective interests and concerns of NGOs because it is a government entity.

The CSOs also question Capital Hill’s logic in introducing a K15 million fine and imprisonment for seven years of a director or trustee for breach of the Act.

“Remove imposition of criminal responsibility on individual trustees and directors as this is the responsibility of the courts to remove the corporate veil. The Amendment Act should further clearly stipulate which infractions of the Act are criminal offences, and that petty infractions should not be subject of criminal sanctions,” highlights the petition.

The petition was received at at Parliament by Dowa North East legislator, Sam Kawale of Malawi Congress Party (MCP).

Malawi’s Human Rights Defenders Coalition Timothy Mtambo also expressed concern with the proposed law, saying it would place each and every NGO “at the whim of the government.”

Mtambo said a vibrant civil society is “essential to a functioning democracy.”

“This is an effort to shrink citizen’s voice to demand accountability from the government, this is a repressive law that is against the constitutional and international best practices of NGO laws,” said Mtambo.

The bill is expected to be discussed during the current Parliament meeting.

Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :

Please share this Article if you like Email This Post Email This Post

More From the World

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
James
Guest
James

Some of people when they comment in a nasty way because they feel safe now but when you will be out from the system, then you will see the issue we are advancing today important.

Hatton
Guest
Hatton

There is no Governance Expert who hates accountability. He who seeks equity must come with clean hands. Those groups that call upon others to be accountable must be accountable themselves.
Parliament, please table and pass the bill so that all thieves masquerading as CSOs must be exposed.

Heavyduty
Guest
Heavyduty

Iwe Mtambo you must be an Idiot. Yours is not a vibrant CSO that is essential to a functioning democracy. You and your colleagues’ NGO/CSO is detrimental and retards development, you are just full of insult and you offer no any constructive criticism. You are just used by opposition politicians like a pawn in a chess game. Look at what you and your wife Kajoloweka is doing with Salima – Lilongwe water project. Haven’t you delayed the project, eeeeh! answer me. We people in Lilongwe are greatly lacking portable water forcing us to use pit latrines instead of flush toilets… Read more »

Ndendeuli
Guest
Ndendeuli

Mumazolowera achina Mtambo. Adzikukwidzingani!

mbuje
Guest
mbuje

CSOs are hypocrites. They do not want to be accountable to anyone. This bill is good!

psyuta
Guest
psyuta

Zopusa !!!! Tiziyendera za Mankhumbo Munthali ife ?

More From Nyasatimes