Almost 40 civil society organisations (CSOs) have come out in the open supporting Malawi Government on the non-devaluation of the kwacha and its zero-deficit budget (ZDB).
This has sent a message of a split among the organisations as most of them have vehemently spoken against these two policies.
However, in an interview on Friday, chair of Council for Non-Governmental Organisations in Malawi (Congoma), Voice Mhone, said this was not a split but that those CSOs now supporting DPP-led government agenda without considering the plight of the majority of Malawians cease to be NGOs.
During a press conference in MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s capital, Lilongwe, on Thursday, almost 40 NGOs came up with a position paper, saying the kwacha should not be devalued and that the ZDB must be promoted as it was a good tool for economic independence.
The press conference was moderated by the newly appointed NGO Board member Mabvuto Bamusi and Frackson Chozi of Counselling of Adolescents and Youth Organisation (Cayo).
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Devaluation on its own without any cushioning would be careless,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Bamusi.
On the ZDB, Bamusi said this was a good tool but its success lies in looking at other policies such as reducing and reviewing punitive taxes, and that government should look at tax exemption to investors seriously as it is a new form of tax evasion.
The CSOs came up with the position following a conference organised by Cayo under the theme Deepening Dialogue on Evidence-Based Economic Policy Advocacy and Civil Society Accountability.
Bamusi said they thought of coming up with such a conference to encourage evidence-based advocacy with government unlike being confrontational as has always been the case.
Chozi said the position by the CSOs came about after consulting more than 60 CSOs and that most of them felt that the current approach to advocacy does not involve most of the NGOs since some positions are made without consulting the more than 400 CSOs community in the country.
Well known CSOs represented at the conference included Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, Malawi Economic Justice Network, National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) and the Malawi Congress of Trade Union (MCTU) which was represented by its president Luther Mambala.
Asked whether this was a split of the civil society, Chozi said all the organisations were having the position in their individual capacities and some of them still regard themselves as members of Congoma as well as the Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC)Ã¢â‚¬â€a national network of CSOs.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“As a member of a network, it does not deprive you from expressing your opinion. Networks actually emerge from these organisations,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
In an interview on Friday, Mhone said the NGOs are autonomous and have the freedom to bring their own views as long as the views are in line with their constitution.
He, however, expressed surprise that the said NGOs decided to come up with a position on the devaluation and the zero-deficit budget while Congoma is still in dialogue with government over issues encompassing the same.