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Congoma urges NGOs to defy government on fees

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The Council for Non-Governmental Organisations in Malawi (Congoma) has appealed to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the country not to pay the new fees government has imposed through the NGO Board.
Until January 1 2018, the annual fee for NGOs was K50,000 and the registration fee was also K50,000. According to the new regulation, some NGOs will now be required to pay K1 million.
In a press statement released by Congoma Thursday and signed by its Chairperson Steve Duwa, the council asks government to put on hold the new fees.
According to the statement, the new fees are illegal and no NGO should pay them.
“Our position is that the new fees should be put on hold until all issues surrounding it are resolved. Congoma would also like to appeal to its members not to pay the new fees because they are illegal and ill-conceived. In addition, we are of the view that NGOs should be allowed to pay the old rate for the time being,” reads the statement.
It adds: “We take note that the issue was raised at the last annual general meeting of NGOs and minutes are available that the NGO Board assured NGOs that there will be consultations on the issue. However, NGO Board has gone ahead to implement [the new fees regime] without consultations with NGOs.”
Congoma says its research reveals that in the Southern Africa Development Community Region, only two countries charge fees to NGOs.
According to the board, Tanzania charges a maximum fee of $50 per year while Lesotho charges R3,000 annually.
NGOs under the banner Human Rights Defenders Forum, recently also condemned the decision by the government to implement the new fees which they argue are unfair and an effort to stifle their operations in the country.

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