Let Justice Take Its Course Without Undue Obstruction-Malawi’s NGO Board Tells UN

PUBLIC STATEMENT
(For Immediate Release)

IN PURSUIT OF TRANSPARENCY AND FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY FOR THE MALAWI NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATION (MANGO) NETWORK

The NGO Board is a statutory organization established to promote the development of a strong independent civil society and a development-centered NGO sector. The NGO Board facilitates the formation and effective functioning of NGOs to the benefit of Malawian people. The Board also promotes donor and public confidence in the NGO sector by incorporating principles of fiduciary integrity, public accountability, and non-discrimination.

The Board wishes to express profound worry and concern over the financial mishandling that has taken place at MANGO. It is further disturbing to note that the funds abuse have taken place under the watch of some most prominent CSO activists who are themselves supposed to be pacesetters in the issues of promoting accountability. The NGO Board makes this observation at a time when a significant number of NGOs are non-compliant in submitting of annual financial reports and audits.

The NGO sector registers over MK 1 trillion in annual income, yet only 25 percent of this sum is backed with audits through reports presented to the NGO Board. The Board wishes to emphasize that it is very necessary to promote a strong civil society that can hold duty bearers accountable and therefore, it is imperative that the Civil Society be accountable to the people, and free of criminal elements from within the sector. Civil Society is a conscience of the people and ought to be exemplary in all activities.

We wish to reiterate that the NGO sector in general has remained unaccountable to the Malawian people despite raising funds in the name of Malawians. It is a matter of further concern that MANGO and a number of NGOs have chosen to disregard the rule of law by deliberately
operating without registering under the NGO Act, allegedly with the purpose of staying away from being accountable to Malawian people. Fraud is rampant in the NGO sector as has been illuminated through the case of MANGO. Such NGO funds abuse poses a gross injustice to the people of Malawi.

That is why NGO Board is looking forward to seeing justice taking its course on MANGO together with its leadership Mr. Gift Trapence and Mr Macdonald Sembereka. We observe that the two directors of MANGO are in court on allegations of misappropriating UNAIDS project funds that were meant for very needy Malawians in minority key community. As observed, we further notice that MANGO Network decided to operate with impunity by working without proper registration under the Law for it to operate as an NGO.

The NGO Board therefore urges law enforcers and the United Nations to allow justice to take its course without undue obstruction, in the ongoing court case involving MANGO network and its leadership. We find it strange and improper for the UNAids to ask for closure of the matter before the courts have handled it as this will contradict the very principles of transparency and accountability which the UN family so ardently promotes and jealousy safeguards. We caution the UN against setting precedence which will choke future efforts to fight abuse of funds and promote accountability.

In conclusion, we wish to reiterate that in the interest of safeguarding democratic accountability, we need a renewed sense of integrity in the NGO and civil society sector by allow the law to take its course for the betterment of the people. The NGO Board will also take an extra gear to  promote NGO accountability by demanding rule of law, programme and financial audits in all NGOs working in Malawi. We will not relent in enforcing these standards for the sake of our mutual desire to democratize the NGO sector and ensure integrity in the civil society as a way of strengthening the CSO sector for maximizing gains to the people.
 
Voice Mhone
Chief Executive Officer
11 July, 2019

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