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Malawi government talks tough on NGOs

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Malawi government has said it will start making sure that Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs) operating in the country adhere to what is stipulated in the NGO Act.

Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Mary Shawa, said this yesterday after opening a consultative meeting themed ‘an enabling policy and legal environment for NGO operations in Malawi’.

“When an NGO walks in any country, may be in Malawi, or anywhere in the world, it has to go to the government, and say what it wants to do. Government has the responsibility to request the NGO to inform the government and Malawians what it wants to do and where it wants to operate. Government should also guide where the NGO should operate,” Shawa said.

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She said that is the standard worldwide: “Whether it’s within UN, it doesn’t allow any NGO to go and operate without accreditation. It’s only when you are accredited that you operate.”

NGO Board chairperson Emily Banda stressed the need for NGOs to register.

“In the past people have been taking advantage of that the NGO board was not able to monitor the activities of the NGOs, or physically go to their offices. Now that this process has started, you will see the law taking its course. The NGO Board has provisions of either suspending or cancelling registration,” Banda said.

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According to Banda, the NGO Act demands that all NGOs working in Malawi are supposed to register with the NGO board of Malawi.

“Some NGOs are still operating without registration. There is a recommendation from the UN saying some should be allowed to operate without registering. However, you realise that in every country there is a law. I have never come across any country where there is a law which states that NGOs should be allowed to operate freely, without registration, or without being regulated,” Banda said.

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