CSOs take draft NGO policy advocacy to district networks

In an effort to create a wider platform for stakeholders’ inputs into the draft NGO policy, the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Malawi Law Society (MLS) will, starting this week, hold consultative meetings with selected district civil society networks, Community Based Organisations and interest groups to generate comprehensive and diverse inputs into the policy.

CHRR’s Fletcher Simwaka

In March this year, the Malawi government through the Ministry of Gender and Social Welfare released the draft NGO policy for stakeholders’ input before finalization.

CHRR Advocacy Coordinator, Fletcher Simwaka, said the consultative meetings will also offer an opportunity for the two CSOs to raise awareness among the district stakeholders on the key provisions in the draft Policy and their implications on their work

“There has been an outcry from the NGO sector on the undemocratic formulation process of the NGO policy. This is evident in a number of policy’s grey areas such multiple registration process, narrow definition of NGOs and lack of protective provisions for human rights defenders,” said Simwaka.

“We are aware that district CSOs may also have their own issues with the policy, a development that might affect their working relationship with the district councils, hence the need to consult them and come up with joint recommendations”

While welcoming the policy as a huge milestone for the NGO sector in Malawi, Simwaka said only a democratic policy would enhance NGOs contribution to development and democratization process of Malawi.

“We need a policy that will open up civil space in the country rather than shut it down,” he said.

Meanwhile, Simwaka has described as fallacious remarks by some quarters that NGOs who are against the policy are running away from accountability.

“Those lunch-time tales that donors simply give huge chunks of funds to NGOs and then leave them to their own devices are now outdated and fallacious at worst. Donors or development partners are more than ever before serious about accountability among their grantees.

“Today, the development partners periodically go to the project’s impact areas and assess impact of the interventions on the communities. Donors even commission their own social and financial audits on their funded-projects,”he said.

He said the Memorandum of Understanding district councils sign with CSOs are also proving to be an effective accountability tool.

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