NGO to drag CONGOMA to court

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A Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) is set to challenge Council for Non-Governmental Organisations in Malawi’s (CONGOMA) resolution that made it compulsory for all NGOs to register with the council.

The NGO, Counselling Adolescent and Youth Organisation (CAYO), wants the High Court to interpret the meaning of a clause in the NGO Act which requires proof of NGOs membership with CONGOMA as one of the conditions for registering with the NGO Board.

malawi-high-courtCONGOMA during its 2017 General Assembly resolved to make its membership mandatory in order to align with section 20(3)(a)(v) of the NGO Act.

According to documents seen by Malawi24, CAYO wrote CONGOMA expressing intention to commence legal proceedings challenging validity of the resolution made.

CAYO fears that the resolution would infringe on its freedom of association as provided for in the constitution.

Speaking in an interview with Malawi24, Executive Director of CAYO Fryson Chozi confirmed having instructed lawyers Doreen and Cuthbert Lawyers to commence legal proceedings questioning the legality of the section and CONGOMA’s resolution saying these are in conflict with section 32 of the constitution of Malawi which provide for freedom of association.

When asked on the impending lawsuit, lawyer Allan Chinula acknowledged receipt of the notice but denied knowledge of the issue and asked for time to contact CONGOMA first before responding.

There have been calls from some NGOs, stakeholders and donor community to repeal the section or abolish the NGO Act which seems to duplicate the role of the NGO Board and CONGOMA.

In 2016, renowned Lawyer Justin Dzonzi pointed out legal pitfalls in the NGO Act observing that CONGOMA is a voluntary registering organization and therefore, has no powers to force NGOs to register with it.

He further observed that the Republican constitution provides for freedom of association therefore forcing an NGO to be member of CONGOMA which has no legal backing would be legally problematic.

 

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