Government has stressed its commitment to register and regulate all non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the country to ensure transparency and accountability in their operations.
Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati said this on Friday when she opened a meeting between the NGO Board and area development committee (ADC) leaders from all traditional authorities (T/As) in Blantyre.
The minister said NGOs complement government’s efforts in uplifting the lives of vulnerable Malawians; hence, the need to ensure they put their houses in order for citizens to enjoy maximum benefits from their initiatives.
In 2018, government amended the NGO Act which now requires NGOs to submit to the NGO Board annual audited financial statements, including cash and non-cash donations, within three months after the end of the financial year.
Kaliati said: “Government is committed to ensuring that a conducive environment is provided for NGOs that have the interest of Malawians at heart and not those that are busy enriching themselves at citizens’ expense.
“There are many NGOs implementing programmes in our communities. The President [Lazarus Chakwera], my ministry or members of Parliament (MPs) cannot be all over the country monitoring the work of NGOs. As leaders, we have a role to play to ensure that resources benefit the intended beneficiaries.”
She said government decided to empower the 11 ADC leaders from all T/As in Blantyre with knowledge so they can track and take NGO leaders to task in case of any malpractices, including financial abuse.
In an interview on the sidelines of the meeting, NGO Board chief executive officer Voice Mhone said the board engaged ADC leaders to familiarise them with NGOs working in their communities and how to hold them accountable in any project.
He said: “The message [to NGOs] is clear that we are now hitting the ground. The regulation and registration will be enforced on the ground in the communities and we are happy now that the chairpersons know who is in their areas.”
T/A Kuntaja ADC chairperson Julia Mataya said following the meeting, it will be easy to monitor all NGOs implementing projects in their respective communities.
She said previously, ADCs were failing to take NGOs to task when they abandoned the projects.