Council for Non-Governmental Organisations in Malawi (CONGOMA) has told Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) in the country not to pay the hiked NGO fees.
CONGOMA which has a membership of over 1,200 NGOs countrywide says the hike is illegal and ill-conceived hence NGOs should not pay the new fees.
In a statement released on Wednesday and signed by CONGOMA chairperson Steven Duwa, the umbrella body says implementation of the new fees should be withheld until all issues surrounding it are resolved.
On the legality of the hike, CONGOMA says the Regulations being used to introduce the new fees had not been gazetted as of 17 January, 2018 at 2.58pm.
“This means that implementation of these new fees rates is illegal and ultra-vires because it is against Section 17 of the General Interpretation Act of the Laws of Malawi,” says the statement.
The body also accuses government of trying to ironically take up civil society space as evidenced by attempts to review the NGO Act secretly and forming District Advocacy Forums comprising NGOs and government through the backdoor.
“Government is already aware that most NGOs cannot afford the fees and as such will close down.
“This will be advantageous to Government because it will thoroughly shrink the public policy spaces that NGOs occupy to advocate for human rights and good governance for the good of the majority Malawians,” CONGOMA says.
The body in the statement notes that NGOs do not generate income since they rely on grants which are activity and results specific.
CONGOMA has since asked the Minister of Gender to immediately halt the implementation of the new fees and has threatened to take further action if this is not done.
The body has also asked government to pay back any money paid by any member of CONGOMA to NGO Board as the basis of that payment is illegal.
Government through NGO board announced that with effect from 1st January, fees have been hike such that NGOs with annual income below K100 million will be paying K100 000; those with income capacity within the range of K100 million to K500 million will be paying K250 000; those with earnings above K500 million and below K2 billion will be paying K1 million while NGOs with annual income above K2 billion, will be paying a K2 million.