Non-governmental organizations formed by former heads of state in the country were never registered with the NGO Board hence operating illegally since the enactment of the NGO law in 2001.
According to Malawi News investigations, the charitable organizations connected with the presidency during the United Democratic Front (UDF) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regimes-among them the Freedom Foundation, the Bakili Muluzi Foundation, the Ethel Mutharika Foundation and the Bingu Silver Grey Foundation have been operating outside the set guidelines for registering NGOs in the country.
Both Council for Non-Governmental Organizations (Congoma) Chairperson Voice Mhone and the NGO Board chairperson Emily Banda confirmed separately that the organizations have been known for various fundraising activities thereby attracting high profile donations have never been in the books of the two entities.
“These organizations were not and are not registered with Congoma. We do not know why and we would not have forced them to register because we do not enforce the law on non members. Unregistered institutions are the domain of NGO Board,” Mhone said.
He insisted that monitoring compliance with laws of this country remains the duty of NGO Board.
“The organizations belonging to former presidents and first ladies were neither registered with the NGO Board of Malawi nor were they members of Congoma. As far as our records are concerned none of these charitable entities have ever been registered with the NGO Board,” she said.
However, a search at the Registrar General’s office indicates that the philanthropic organizations only registered at the office to legalize their operations.
Section 18 of the NGO Act says that the NGO Board has powers to suspend, cancel or withdrawal operations of organizations that deliberately choose not to comply with the law. The Act also gives the NGO Board powers to take to court any NGO that fails to comply and to impose fines.