CSOs stop tabling of NGO bill

Malawi Youth

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have obtained an injunction to stop the tabling of the controversial Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) Amendment Bill saying government drafted the bill without consulting the organisations.

High Court Judge Charles Mkandawire granted the CSOs the injunction yesterday.

The CSOs are Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) and Youth and Society (YAS). In their application, they listed Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya and Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa as first and second defendants.

The CSOS noted that the proposed legislation creates an authority which will consist of members appointed by a cabinet minister hence giving the minister more power to deal with NGOs.

“The ‘Authority’ itself, according to the proposal, would have too much power whose terms are vague and would in the long run use these powers to intimidate and stifle the civic space within which NGOs operate,” the CSOs said.

Judge Mkandawire granted leave for judicial review and ordered the defendants not to table the bill or debate the NGO Amendment Bill in Parliament until a further order of this court.

Meanwhile, the Malawi Human Rights Commission has asked Parliament to let the bill be re-drafted and involve more stakeholders in the process.

Recently, YAS executive director Charles Kajoloweka said government wanted to use the legislaton to hit back at civil society organisation that condemns bad governance including rampant corruption under President Peter Mutharika.

“We believe the bill is the regime’s desperate response to the critical civil society voice against bad governance including rampant corruption by/under President Mutharika and his regime,” he said.

Kajoloweka also accused former rights activists currently working with the Mutharika government of being behind the bill.