Presidential adviser on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) Martha Kwataine has defended the controversial NGO Amended Act of 2022, saying it will ensure accountability in the work of civil society organisations (CSOs) and NGOs.
She said this yesterday in Mzuzu during awareness meeting on the new NGO law.
During another awareness meeting held last week in Lilongwe, two organisations, Youth and Society as well as Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, declined to attend, accusing Council for Non-Governmental Organisation (Congoma) of siding with government.
However, in her presentation, Kwataine said it was normal for some NGOs to criticise the NGO Amended Act.
She said the law is an outcome of a thorough consultation process and a reflection of realities on the ground.
“This Act will ensure accountability and value for money because huge sums of money are channelled to NGOs and in the absence of proper regulations, it becomes difficult to track and monitor them,” said Kwataine.
She said the law does not shrink the civic space in any way and wonders why some organisations are protesting.
“It’s normal, nobody wants to be regulated so you expect that there would be some cries from some quarters, but it is a good law,” said Kwataine.
On his part, Non-Governmental Organisation Regulatory Authority board member Sangster Nkhandwe said the law is a plus to the NGOs because it will enhance their work in the country.
On the concerns of some organisations that the fees are high, he said the NGOs should consider partnering with others.
“One can’t just wake up to form an NGO. The NGOs should assess themselves first then join forces with others,” said Nkhandwe.
Congoma vice-chairperson Dalitso Kubalasa said NGOs should not be the first to resist the law which has come to enhance efficiency in their work.
Parliament passed the NGO Amendment Bill in March this year and President Lazarus Chakwera assented to it in May amid an uproar from the country’s CSOs.
The CSOs urged Chakwera not to assent to the Bill, arguing that it is aimed at gagging operations of CSOs and undermining human rights and democracy.