The Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) Board of Malawi, with technical support from the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, on Monday began the consultative process of developing reporting regulations for NGOs in a bid to promote transparency and accountability in the NGO sector.
Section 22 of the NGO Act compels NGOs in Malawi to submit their annual returns, audited and technical reports to the NGO Board–a state agency which registers NGOs in the country and regulates their operations.
The board then consolidates all the reports of the NGOs and brings them to the attention of the public, development partners and relevant authorities including Parliament.
The first consultative meeting for the development of reporting regulations for NGOs was held in the lakeshore District of Mangochi, drawing together a horde of NGO representatives from the Eastern Region of Malawi.
Director of Corporate Services at NGO Board of Malawi, Linda Njikho, complained that most NGOs in the country are not complying with section 22 of the NGO Act, a situation, she says, has prompted the board to develop reporting regulations to enable NGOs understand the reporting requirements.
“Section 22 of the NGO Act spells out the reporting requirements for NGOs. However, we note that some NGOs are having challenges to interpret this section hence our desire to develop regulations to expound further on the requirements of reporting according to the NGO Act,” Njikho told journalists.
Published information shows that out of 671 registered NGOs in Malawi, only about 184 submitted their reports to the NGO Board in the period covering June 2017 to June 2018.
That had angered the NGO Board which warned that it would stop issuing annual operating licenses to non compliant NGOs.
And the current meetings are aimed at giving the NGOs a chance to be heard first before the ban is eventually implemented.
According to Njikho, other factors that influence some NGOs not to report to the NGO Board include:
They have no audited accounts because they cannot afford to pay auditors fees that are reportedly very high.
Lack of government funding and so they think that reporting to the NGO Board has no justification.
“So we want these regulations to help sort out some of these issues so that NGOs move together with one understanding towards becoming a transparent and accountable NGO sector,” said Njikho.
Taking his turn, a representative of Seed Malawi, Aggrey Mfune, who is also the Chairperson for Mangochi Civil Society Network, concurred with Njikho, saying non compliance to reporting is indeed a serious problem among NGOs in Malawi and must come to an end.
“I believe these regulations, which we are making ourselves, will take us to the right direction. NGOs will no longer have excuses, they will be compelled to report as is required,” he said.
And Robin MacGregor, an independent government advisor on charity regulation from Scotland, urged the NGO Board of Malawi to conduct more engagements with players in the NGO sector so that its mandate is understood.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :