On November 16 and 17 2017,Council for Non-Governmental Organization (CONGOMA) held its Annual General Meeting at Capital Hotel in Lilongwe where over 300 Non-Governmental Organizations patronized the event. The patronage surpasses the previous AGM a development which reflects the growth in the NGO sector and realization on the importance of attending such gatherings.
The two-day event was officially opened by the Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Honorable Jean A. N. Kalilani- MP. In her remarks, the Minister congratulated the chairperson of CONGOMA and the entire management for organizing the Annual General Meeting at the opportune time when winding the year 2017. She encouraged CONGOMA not to focus on the losses of 2017 but rather on achievements and cement new strength and energy for 2018 aspects.
The Minister further said that government recognizes the significant roles played by NGOs in Malawi. She also acknowledged the existing numerous challenges faced in the country which could not be addressed by government alone as such the Minister called for a close collaboration between NGOs on one side and government on the other.
“Ladies and gentlemen allow me once again to congratulate the NGO sector for the enormous economic contribution to the nation. This year’s total audited account in the NGO sector is way above 240 billion kwacha representing almost 20% of the nation budget, more than 57 times my ministry’s national budget. My Ministry will ensure that these resources are channeled to proper use to address the needs of vulnerable people in the communities”, explained the Minister.
Taking her turn, chairperson for NGO-Board Ms Abigail Dzimadzi highlighted two major issues of which one had to do with the NGO Policy process and the other one on finance gap for NGO Board programming. “Since the Act was enacted in 2001, the NGO Sector has operated without a policy, which was an anomaly. After initiation of the Policy process around 2015- the process stalled. It is pleasing to note that most recently we have seen more collective progress and it is all our hopes that this is now nearing completion and that soon Malawi will imminently have a Policy to guide us to prosperity for all her people by articulating and providing guidance to the unique role that NGOs play”, said Ms Dzimadzi.
The agenda for 2017 CONGOMA annual general meeting focused on the NGO position on the Draft NGO Policy, Draft NGO Act Amendment Bill, CONGOMA Strategic plan 2018-2022, Elections of Office Bearers and Adoption of Annual Financial Audited Accounts.
Having gone through the agenda, the outgoing chairperson for CONGOMA Mr Macbain Mkandawire presented his speech in which he highlighted different issues among others he appealed to the new members in the governing council to always be truthful and honest.
He also advised the incoming governing council to serve whole heartedly for there is no money in the governing council. “My message to the incoming governing council is simple, you are getting into work, that is a calling, and it is not a job, if you get in because it is a job, forget about it because there is no money in governing council, what is there is a service. If you go there to serve, you will find the reason why you should continue serving even the hard ships,” advised Mkandawire.
In a separate interview with Non-governmental organizations which were present at the AGM were delighted that CONGOMA organized the AGM citing that such fora give opportunity to member organizations to deliberate issues of common interest. They also added that AGMs give a right to NGOs to hear from management board on how issues are being managed and also for NGOs to express freely on how they are doing on the ground.
Among other things during the AGM, NGOs resolved that membership to CONGOMA should be compulsory by all NGOs, NGOs welcomed the data collection questionnaire on NGO governance Charter that CONGOMA is preparing and Key resolutions from the AGM will be circulated to NGOs and Stakeholders under separate cover.
This year’s Annual General Meeting was organized by the CONGOMA secretariat with sponsorship from IM Swedish Development Partner, Britam and AMG Global.