Some civil society organisations (CSOs) accredited by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to conduct voter and civic education for the 2019 Tripartite Elections remain unfunded due to their alleged lack of financial accountability.
But Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) has challenged concerned those alleging lack of accountability to make public a list of the affected CSOs as a best practice of transparency and accountability.
This comes a week before the start of phase one of the voter registration exercise. Most CSOs have not received funding to conduct awareness campaigns unlike in previous years when they were already on the ground by this time.
During the 2014 elections, most CSOs got their funding for the exercise through the US-funded National Democratic Institute (NDI), which wound up its operations in the country last year.
NGO Board projects manager Joel Mkandawire said they have been informed that development partners were not willing to fund the CSOs because of accountability issues, a setback he described as sad.
He said: “We are confirming that some NGOs are not accountable indeed… As NGO Board, we are also concerned at the rate the NGOs are submitting their annual reports to us. So we know if they cannot submit reports to the NGO Board then it will be impossible to again submit to any development partners.”
Mkandawire said the board does not have information on how many CSOs did not liquidate their accounts and how much funds were involved. Only 25 percent of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the country have so far submitted their financial reports to the board, he said.
But Mesn chairperson Steve Duwa in an interview described the allegations as outrageous. He said that during the 2014 polls individual CSOs got funding through bilateral agreements and it was surprising to say development partners were unhappy.
He said: “Why have those donors remained silent for four years? For transparency sake it would be better to publish list of the CSOs who were funded and have not liquidated the funds.”
In its statement issued yesterday, Mesn asked the NGO Board, the United Nations (UN) and donors who funded CSOs during the 2014 Tripartite Elections TO make public a list of the alleged CSOs as a best practice of transparency and accountability.
MEC has accredited 117 CSOs to conduct civic and voter education activities ahead of next year’s elections.
MEC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa said they had put measures in place to fill the civic education gap as the voter registration starts next week.
He said: “We are already intensifying our reach in the districts through public mobilisation meetings and also using the media. We are optimistic that we are able to buffer the situation and that registration will run successfully.”
During the 2009 elections CSOs benefitted from the electoral trust fund created by development partners under the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the funding was being disbursed to them through MEC.
But in 2014 polls, the CSOs sourced funding independently from NDI which was supported by Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID). n