‘It is obstruction to justice’ Malawi NGO board says about calls to end Trapence and Sembereka  fraud case

The Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) Board in Malawi has trashed a letter from the United Nations AIDS Agency (UNAIDS) calling for the immediate release from custody of rights activists Gift Trapence and MacDonald Sembereka, saying such a call is an obstruction to justice especially as it is apparent that the two really have a case to answer.

Voice Mhone, Malawi NGO Board Chief Executive Officer

Trapence and Sembereka were arrested on Tuesday to face charges of fraud before the Lilongwe Resident Magistrate Court after running an unregistered organisation called Malawi Non-Governmental Organization (MANGO) Network through which they were abusing funds received from UNAIDS.

After their arrest and remand at Maula Prison in the Capital Lilongwe, UNAIDS called for the immediate release of the two, saying it indeed there was misappropriation of funds by MANGO but the case did not require legal action against the organisation because it was ” resolved amicably”.

However, in a statement signed by NGO Board Chief Executive Officer, Voice Mhone, the board says UNAIDS should allow justice to take its course without undue obstruction.

“We find it strange and improper for UNAIDS to ask for closure of the matter before the courts have handled it as this will contradict the very principles of transparency and accountability which the UN family so ardently promotes and jealousy safeguards.

“We caution the UN against setting precedence which will choke future efforts to fight abuse of funds and promote accountability,” says the statement.

According to the statement, the Board is concerned that the reported abuse of funds has taken place under the watch of prominent Civil Society Organisation (CSOs) and activists who are themselves supposed to be pacesetters in the issues of promoting accountability.

It notes that fraud is rampant in the NGO sector as has been illuminated through the case of MANGO, adding that there are also many other cases of NGOs not complying in submitting annual financial reports and audits.

“The NGO sector registers over MK1 trillion in annual income, yet only 25 percent of this sum is backed with audits through reports presented to the NGO Board,” the statement says.

It adds that a number of NGOs do not register with the NGO Board in a bid to stay away from being accountable to the Malawian people.

The statement then calls for the need to promote a strong civil society that can hold duty bearers accountable while it too is also being accountable to the people and free of criminal elements.

“That is why as NGO Board we are looking forward to seeing justice taking its course on MANGO together with its leadership Mr. Gift Trapence and Mr Macdonald Sembereka,” said the statement.

The NGO Board is a statutory organization established to promote the development of a strong independent civil society and a development-centered NGO sector.

It facilitates the formation and effective functioning of NGOs to the benefit of the Malawian people.

The Board also promotes donor and public confidence in the NGO sector by incorporating principles of fiduciary integrity, public accountability, and non-discrimination.

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Mzungwakuda
Guest
Mzungwakuda

Mr muhone the love of money won’t take u fa

RollOutATINow
Guest
RollOutATINow

Thank you Mr Mhone, you are right. I also want to see the audited financial statements of Beautify Malawi. Do you have them filed. I need to have access to information.

Jakison Laanje
Guest
Jakison Laanje

Malawi is a member of the UN. And, as a member it pays annual contributions to the UN. The contributions to the UN come from taxpayers. As such, Malawi can prosecute any misuse of funds without UN go ahead as long as there is evidence a crime was committed, and there was a complaint. The crime happened on Malawian soil, hence the Malawi government has all the mandate and the necessary tools to prosecute any wrong doing by a Malawian organization or person. However, under the Geneva convention, Malawi cannot prosecute crimes committed by those with diplomatic immunity. The UN… Read more »

THE APOSTLE
Guest

TRAPENCE AND SEMBEREKA ISSUE WAS POLITICALLY MOTIVATED AND FOR MHONE TO MAKE SUCH CARELESS STATEMENTS ITS UN CALLED FOR AND STRANGE AS WELL.

IF THE NGOs IN MALAWI ARE RECEIVING 1 TRILLION EVERY YEAR UNDER THEIR WATCH WHY HAS MHONE AND THE NGO BOARD HAVE BEEN KEEPING IT UNDER THE CARPET?

WERE THEY WAITING FOR TRAPENCE TO BE ARRESTED AND TALK THESE NONSENSE?? WHAT IS WRONG WITH MALAWIANS KUDIKIRA PAFE MUNTHU THEN NKUMATI TICHITEPO KANTHU KUTI WINA ASAFENSO…

VOTSEEKKKK

namatetule
Guest

Izo! Izo! Izo!

PETER MUKHITO
Guest
PETER MUKHITO

zoonatu izo! But some will still say, their arrests is political.

Sibo ndi Dingase
Guest
Sibo ndi Dingase

So Mr Voice Mhone, why don’t you do the same to the many cases hanging around the heads of those in government like Peter Munthalika cases of fraud, Jane Ansah issue, tractor gate issues and many cases hanging in the balance with ACB. Why don’t you protest about them. Why are you worried and waste time taking about it when the real owners of the said money have agreed to settle out of court. What’s your real problem with that arrangements? Or doesn’t exist in the laws of Malawi. Who are you trying to appease? mbava Peter Munthalika kuti akupatseko… Read more »

Jeff Mpotazingwe
Guest
Jeff Mpotazingwe

It is not obstruction of justice as the case was resolved outside court; in court you need a plaintiff and defendant for a case to proceed;so who do you think is the plaintiff here ? Your call is not timely and we in the backbench see it that you are being a dancing Jack-someone is pulling up the strings. The court has a clean conscious we trust its ruling and let it be vigilant as the country is at crossroad to plunge into chaos or sanity continues. Just thinking out loud !!!!

Risible
Guest

It is obstruction of justice to use tippex during elections. Maybe after! I am confused.

Mandado@147
Guest

The owners of the funds said drop the charges there didn’t press any charges you the one obstructing justice here cause the other charges are minor in nature asimply deregister the NGO and fine them. I bet your the one who cooked up the story after eatting dpp buns!