NGO authority deregisters United Mission Foundation for ‘robing’ poor people

State-owned registrar and regulator of all NGOs and Civil Society organizations, NGO Regulatory Authority (NGORA), has cancelled the registration of United Mission Foundation (UMF) for contravening its conditions of registration.

Among others, UMF, approved to operate in 16 districts in Malawi, has been collecting money from some people, promising to employ them as missionary reformers.

The organization recruited others as its beneficiaries, asking them to pay money for membership, identity cards and access to purported business loans.

Voice Mhone, NGORA CEO

The public notice from NGORA, announcing the cancellation of registration for UMF over these mischiefs, is dated 9th February 2023.

It reads, in part: “The authority received complaints that United Mission Foundation was collecting money from beneficiaries in contravention of its conditions of registration which stipulated that it should not collect money from the public”.

In Ntchisi alone, UMF reportedly had 262 prospective missionary reformers and collected approximately MK30,000 from each one of them.

In the same district, the organization reportedly collected MK6,000 from each beneficiary. For instance, one Missionary Reformer in Ntchisi is overseeing 180 beneficiaries recruited through him by UMF and all of them paid MK6000.

NGORA says it gave the foundation an opportunity to be heard in writing on 13th July, 2022 and verbally through a hearing session on 27th September, 2022 at NGORA offices.

“The foundation was requested to submit in writing, by 7th October, 2022, its counter arguments but by the date of cancellation on 6th February, 2023, no submission was made,” further reads the public notice.

According to one of the missionary reformers in Ntchisi, Clement Benson Chinyama, he had travelled all the way to Nkhotakota with his colleagues in order to write examinations for his post on 19 January 2022.

Among other requirements, he paid MK16,000 examination fees, MK6000 for visa card, MK4000 for identity card and opened an account with FDH Bank plc.

“They then gave each one of us two UMF books which we have been using to train beneficiaries so that they know what the organization is all about.

“They promised to train us further which they have not done up to now. When we asked them, they said they were waiting for our visa cards to come first because we would be using them to collect our allowances and other payments which they would be depositing in the FHD bank accounts we opened.

“Of course, we received the identity cards on 17 May 2022. But we are tired of waiting. We feel scammed,” Chinyama said.

Elita Blackson, a beneficiary form Ntchisi, paid MK1000 to become a member of UMF, MK4000 for opening a bank account to access a purported loan and MK1000 for an identity card.

“We have waited for too long. MK6000 for a mere villager is a lot of money. Some of us actually borrowed this money. We feel deceived,” Blackson said.

NGORA says from the evidence available and the hearing, it found that UMF contravened the Non-Governmental Organisations Act specifically section 23 (1) (b).

“It is against this finding of misconduct that the registration of United Mission Foundation was cancelled.

“In line with section 23 (4) of the same Act, should the foundation feel aggrieved with the decision, it may apply to the High Court for judicial review,” the NGORA notice winds up.

Efforts to speak to UMF proved futile because when Nyasa Times called the mobile phone number appearing on the foundation’s registration forms provided by NGORA, the man on the other side of the line claimed he is not from UMF.

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