10 NGOs face graft probe

10 NGOs face graft probe

Non-governmental Organisations (NGO) Regulatory Authority (Ngora) has listed 10 local NGOs for investigation over alleged suspicious activities, including corruption and money laundering.

Ngora chief executive officer Edward Chileka Banda has refused to reveal the names of the 10 NGOs, but said they are working with the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) and other agencies to probe the non-State actors who have not been reporting to the regulator.

Banda: They are not reporting to us

Speaking during a breakfast meeting with NGOs in Mzuzu yesterday, he said apart from money laundering, they have received reports from donors allegedly complaining that some of the NGOs abuse funds.

Said Chileka Banda: “We involve other agencies depending on the nature of the cases. We cannot give the status of the probe, but probably towards the end of the year, the authority may be able to come up with a report on the investigations.

“We have reports of NGOs involved in money laundering. Some donors would provide the funds but immediately after it comes into the country, the money goes back to other countries. So, Malawi is just used to clean up the dirty money.”

Presidential adviser on NGOs Martha Kwataine, who attended the meeting, condemned what she termed “massive corruption levels” existing in the sector.

She said the problem has cost the country funding from International NGOs (INGOs).

However, Kwataine, a former civil society activist herself, said it has been difficult to commence legal action because most donors prefer to withdraw their support instead of taking the matters to the court.

She said: “It is not really like government is not committed to fighting corruption. But you also need to understand how NGOs operate. Even if we said they abused the funds, it is difficult to prove that in court because donors already reacted by withdrawing funds.

“As government, we want to give NGOs the benefit of the doubt. The alleged corruption may arise from a number of factors, including incapacity. We are trying to build capacity and see if there will be an improvement.”

But Youth Watch Society executive director Muteyu Mukhuta Banda challenged the government to bring forth facts on the corruption allegations. 

He said most NGOs are facing funding challenges that they cannot even raise money to write reports and comply with Ngora requirements.

“He who alleges must prove. We cannot say corruption is there or not. But whoever raised that allegation must come with concrete facts. We still have so many good NGOs in the country,” said Banda.

Council for Non-governmental Organisations in Malawi executive director Ronald Mtonga said he needed more time to consult on the matter while FIA spokesperson Masautso Ebere had not responded to our questionnaire by press time at 9pm.

During yesterday’s engagement, Chileka Banda said government has created a K1 billion NGO fund to strengthen the sector’s capacity following the NGO sector report of 2023 which highlighted various gaps.

He said the fund is meant to ensure enforcement of the NGO Act which states that NGOs must work with local NGOs.

Said Chileka Banda: “And there is a partnership requirement which says 30 percent of programmes by INGOs are implemented by local NGOs.

“The localisation agenda is recognised internationally even by the United Nations to ensure that communities take charge of development, but we need capacity,” he said.

In 2023, about 39 NGOs out of 59 failed to comply with registration and reporting requirements, a development which raised concerns of shady activities, according to the regulator.

The issue of NGOs’ accountability has refused to die in the past decade with subsequent central government administrations accusing the non-State actors of abuse of funds. However, the NGOs have always thrown the ball back in government’s court and demanded proof of abuse.

The post 10 NGOs face graft probe first appeared on Nation Online.

The post 10 NGOs face graft probe appeared first on Nation Online.