NGOs threaten legal action over parastatal boards

Four non-governmental organisations say they will drag government to court over lack of women in parastatal boards if President Lazarus Chakwera fails to reconstitute the boards within seven days.

The NGOs are Human Rights Defenders Coalition, Youth and Society, NGO Gender Coordination Network and Women Lawyers Association.

In a letter to Secretary to the Office of the President Zangazanga Chikhosi, the NGOs through their lawyer Wesley Mwafulirwa have demanded that at least 43 of 67 boards should be reconstituted in order to comply with the Gender Equality Act (GEA), the Constitution and other enabling laws.

“Be advised that unless the non-compliant boards are reconstituted within 7 days from the 27th of September, 2020, we have instructions to seek legal redress against the appointments. Our instructions include seeking interlocutory orders and costs for the action,” says Mwafulirwa in the letter dated 27 September.

On September 23, Chakwera’s administration released names of people appointed to boards of various parastatal organisations.

According to analysis by NGO GCN, the representation of women in the boards falls short of the legal and policy framework in Malawi.

“For example, over five boards do not have a female at all. Only 11 of the 54 boards analysed have no one gender being more than 60 percent of the other gender. Further, of all the 67 boards, only 7 have female chairpersons,” said Mwafulirwa.

The NGOs further argue that the boards appointed by Chakwera violates the Gender Equality Act which was enacted to fulfill the state obligation of “…progressively adopting and implementing policies and legislation” that helps to achieve gender equality in all spheres of the Malawi society including public appointments.

Meanwhile, NGO GCN Chairperson Babra Banda has rejected her appointment as a member of the TEVETA board in protest over low representation of women in the boards.

 

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