Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) Board says its hands are tied by government’s failure to enact the new NGO policy that would help it look into issues between citizens and NGOs.
The board was reacting to remarks by Paramount Chief Lundu of Chikwawa at a recent presidential rally where he threatened to ban international NGO Goal Malawi from operating in his district, citing the NGO’s poor relationship with community members.
In an interview yesterday, NGO Board executive director Voice Mhone said while the board has moved to look at circumstances involving the two parties, its response is limited due to absence of the NGO policy.
He said the policy, which seeks to improve accountability and transparency in the NGO community, was still at Cabinet level and he was unsure when it would be enacted into law.
“The policy provides operational guidelines and community engagement strategies. The NGO sector has been a free flow for the past 22 years. With no policy guidance it is difficult to handle such issues in a professional manner,” said Mhone.
But Centre for Human Rights Rehabilitation (CHRR) executive director Timothy Mtambo yesterday argued that citing the absence of the policy was a ploy by the NGO Board to push for the current draft policy which is meeting resistance from a number of stakeholders in the NGO community for “not championing NGO independence”.
“Their mandate is derived from the law and the policy is just to operationalise the law. If it’s outside their mandate, then let those mandated to do so deal with them,” he said.
NGO Board was established in 2001 to act as a regulator for the NGO sector.
According to the draft policy, it will focus on five priority areas, namely regulation of NGOs; coordination, networking and partnerships; accountability and transparency; governance, ownership and capacity in NGOs; and sustainability and responsiveness of NGO programmes.