The Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN) has escaped deregistration after it finally complied with Section 20 of the Non -governmental Organisations (NGO) Act (2001) by getting registered with the NGO Board last week.
The registration comes after government threatened to shut down all NGOs that were not registered with the board.
NGO Board chairperson Emily Banda confirmed that MHEN fulfilled all procedures, requirements and finished the process of registration and got approved last week.
“I can confirm that MHEN got registered last week. It had all requirements like audited accounts, annual reports, board [minutes] and a strategic plan. It’s a well organised NGO. We are surprised that they were not registered,” said Banda.
She was, however, quick to say the law is not targeting any specific NGO, saying all NGOs willing to operate in Malawi must be registered with the NGO Board to show that nobody is above the law.
“Being registered is one thing but complying with the reporting is also another and to us the most important aspect of the law is the issue of reporting,” she said.
In a separate interview however, MHEN executive director Martha Kwataine refused to comment saying such discussion was not for public consumption and was not newsworthy.
“I already commented on that, what more do you want? That is not for public consumption but you put it on your front page and what else do you want to ask? That is being proud,” she said.
“Who is using you? They said there were over 300 NGOs and why are you asking only me? Go and ask all the 300 NGOs,” said an angry Kwataine before hanging up the phone.
Meanwhile, Gender Minister Patricia Kaliati said government was thankful that the NGOs have started registering with the NGO Board.
She said government was not harassing the NGOs by reminding them to register with the board but it was only a requirement of the NGO Act. Kaliyati said now that a lot of donor money is being channeled through the NGOs, the NGOs must be accountable to Malawians and the donors by complying with the NGO Act.
“That’s why the Ministry of Gender has empowered the NGO board to go after and close down all NGOs that are not registered or not giving their financial audit reports on whatever they have spent on their programmes,” said Kaliati.
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