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Government, CSOs battle over NGO Policy

The battle over implementation of the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) Policy between civil society organisations (CSOs) and the government seems to have no end.

While CSOs have maintained their stand that they will not accept the policy before making their recommendations, Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Gender, Children and Disability, Mary Shawa, has said the government cannot bow down to the CSOs’ demands basing on newspaper reports.

According to Shawa, the ministry did not receive a request from the CSOs for an extension of a timeframe in which the CSOs should scrutinise the draft policy so as to give their input.

“For NGOs to operate in the country, they are supposed to come through my office and get our consent. So, if they are going to the press to make their queries then that’s not my call. What I know is that I have agreed with their [CSOs] chairperson to meet and discuss,” she said.

However, National Advocacy Platform (Nap) Chairperson, Benedicto Kondowe said the PS is not saying the truth arguing that the Council for Non- Governmental Organisations in Malawi (Congoma) and Nap sent a letter to the ministry requesting for an extension of days for the CSO’s to give their input on the policy.

“On February 2 2017 as the Chairperson of Nap, which brings together 50 national networks of CSOs, I wrote a letter to the PS, Mary Shawa, on the same NGO Policy formulation process and issues. So if she [Shawa] said she did not receive any request, that’s not correct,” he said.

He further said the manner in which the issue of NGO Policy is being advanced is not proper.

“We are expressing strong displeasure at the manner in which the NGO Policy is being managed by the ministry. There is need for guidelines to be followed. It is important for the process, to satisfy relevant stakeholders,” he said.

Among others, the NGO policy requires NGOs in the country to give their assets to the community and the city council when their project ends.

The CSOs were given a deadline of January 27 2017 to give their input on the draft policy.

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