Malawi NGO Bill raises concern: Endangers the existence of civil society

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have condemned government’s attempts to close down human rights NGOs through its draconian proposed Bill.

Mtambo: s gravely concerned about the recently gazetted Malawi Bill on the operation of NGOs

Tembenu: The Bill demands accountability from CSOs

The CSOs expressed concern over Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Amendment Bill of 2018 which, among others, seeks to amend the NGO Act by establishing an authority which aims at tightening the noose around the neck of CSOs.

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) Chairperson Timothy Mtambo said note with great concern the imminent threat inherent in the intended piece of legislation which endangers the existence of civil society.

The  Malawi Gazette supplement dated November 9 2018 containing a published  the bill .

“The bill seeks to achieve this by removing the reference to a non-statutory established institution the Council for Non-Governmental Organisations (Congoma) and allow the membership of that organisation to become voluntary.

“The bill further removes all statutory responsibilities of Congoma and rightly places those responsibilities under the board,” reads part of the bill.

But Mtambo said the introduction of the law by the government is repressive and the objective is to infringe the civic space.

He said  if the Bill is passed into law, it makes it mandatory for all charities, NGOs and community-based associations to register under a government-controlled authority.

Many fear this will allow the Malawi government to deny accreditation to organisations likely to question its human-rights record.

“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.

“There is no way they would come up with an amendment to an existing law without doing thorough consultations with the stakeholders involved. The HRDC will be meeting with the entire NGO community, we are going to work with Congoma to ensure that this does not take place,” Mtambo said in quotes reported by Malawi News on Saturday.

The bill further states that government will appoint people into NGO Regulating Authority which will comprise 11 members.

“The NGO Act is amended by deleting the definition of board and replacing it with Authority. The Authority shall consist of 11 members who shall be citizens of Malawi and appointed by the minister,” reads part of the bill.

HRDC Vice-Chairperson Gift Trapence faulted government for putting in place a provision of the minister to be the appointee of members of the authority.

“In this law, they want government to appoint people into the NGO Regulating Authority. It means they can even appoint party zealots. NGO Board should be appointed by NGO members only just like it is with the case of the Malawi Human Rights Commission,” he said.

Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu, is quoted as saying that government is not targeting anyone arguing “ there is no law that is made without consultation.”

Tembenu said the legislation want to make CSOs accountable.

“They do things in the name of Malawians, so we want them to account for that,” he said.

The bill is expetced to be discussed during the next Parliament meeting scheduled for Monday.

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James
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James

Its very said Malawi minister punishing your voters and i dont think your common sense is ok.

Masina
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Masina

This is useless style that is coming from government and all those people who are behind this bad agenda are coming CSOs and we groomed them and now they want to bite us. i pray that God blessing should be withdrew from them. Government is failing to make International NGOs Accountable instead you guys you want to finish yourself forgetting that the job you are in is very political and temporally. I trust another government will not hire your services.

oMachemba
Guest
oMachemba

Anyone who would be against this fundamental change does not support the imperative that NGOs should be accountable to Malawians, and transparent in their undertakings, including all expenditures – salaries included. Clearly, the funding model has led to the fact that many of the NGOs are complete sell outs to the foreigners who fund them. Through the funding, foreigners are able to pull the puppet strings attached to the NGO leaders: they have at, attempted to manufacture purported public dissent – fomenting near public disorder; and, evidently, at best, even sponsoring attempted maneuvers through parliamentary procedures for “oppositions” to grab… Read more »

Truth pains
Guest
Truth pains

Yes I agree. They get money in the name of poor Malawian who does not benefit from it. NGOs just accept to be accountable to the people whom you get money in their name. I don’t see anything wrong here

Bullshit
Guest
Bullshit

Stupid government advancing stupid ideas. Why is it taking so long to implement freedom to access information in government and public domain and yet too quick when it comes to oppressive bills that are against those who questions government? Checks and balances should be promoted at all cost

Josemapem
Guest
Josemapem

The question is to whom are NGO s accountable? Who watches the watchdog? That’s the issue!

Heavyduty
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Heavyduty

Dzitsiru, kunena kuti you have to account ndalama zimene mumalandira in the name of Malawians ndekuti they are tightening the noose around your necks? You don’t want to be accountable, yet you ask Government to account. Hypocrites.

My msg to Government is: don’t let them (CSOs) loose, they get funding in our name but they are stealing. Keep a close eye on them. If it is tightening the noose on there necks then tighten it even more.

Tariq
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Tariq

Malawian NGOs do not speak for citizens. They are foreign funded rags. May they wilt and give way to real activism

Tariq
Guest
Tariq

Bad bill but Malawian NGOs for not speak for citizens. They are funded by foreign govts. So I don’t care. Let them wilt

Fam
Guest
Fam

Stop calling Mtambo and Trapence CSOs. These are mercenary politicians. And why complaining about a law that will demand accountability from you? Isn’t accountability what you have been preaching about? What are you hiding? Thanks to the government for drafting this bill. We needed it like yesterday. They claim to be doing things for Malawians. So, is it wrong to be accountable to the people (Malawians) you claim you serve? In democracy, there is nobody who has absolute power. Even the executive or legislature or the judiciary don’t have that absolute power. Everyone is scrutinized by the other. E.g. executive… Read more »

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