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CSO defies Patricia Kaliati

The Forum for National Development (FND) has said Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati is “misguided” by warning that she will close it if it does not get registered with the Non- Governmental Organisations (NGO) Board.

At the opening of the NGO Week last week, Kaliati hit at FND for fighting for former president Joyce Banda’s constitutional benefits and challenged the organisation to organise the benefits themselves if they found it worthwhile.

The minister then went a step further and attacked the organisation for apparently missing on the list of registered NGOs.

But in an interview yesterday, FND Chairperson Bright Kampaundi said Kaliati’s threat is laughable and does not hold water as his organisation is legally mandated to speak on critical issues of national interest.

“We are legally registered in Malawi as a Limited Company by Guarantee and under this section, we have the right to express ourselves in line with freedom of expression which is guaranteed by the Constitution of Malawi.

“We are a loose network and where we decide that we should express ourselves, there is no one who can stop us. [Kaliati] is misguided as far as our status is concerned. We will not stop speaking on critical issues,” said Kampaundi.

He further challenged that different forms of registering organisations mean it is not mandatory that everyone should register with one body.

“If they want, they should harmonise the different bodies that do the registration. In fact, it does not make any sense to say we are not recognised as a civil society organisation in the country.

“Recently, we were invited by the Presidential Advisor on NGOs to a meeting that took place in Blantyre. How do we get invited if we are not recognized as an NGO?” queried Kampaundi.

He further accused government of failing in its constitutional obligation by taking long to prepare Banda’s benefits which include a house.

“She deserves it because it is there in our [the Republican] Constitution. It is not a favour. Next time it will be someone else and they will need to get the benefits too just like any former Head of State. Government should address issues with honesty,” said Kampaundi.

Banda is apparently putting her homecoming on hold because government has not yet processed a residence for her. But Minister of Information Jappie Mhango recently said the excuse is lame as the former head of state obviously had a house of her own before she became president.

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