Bill on Non Governmental Organizations

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Printed and Publised by THE GOVERNEMNET PRINTER, Zomba, Malawi – 14931
This Bill seeks to enact the law relating to Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in
Malawi. Specifically the Bill addresses issu es relating to registration and requirements
for the NGOs operating in Malawi so that th ere is equitable sectoral and geographical
distribution of the NGO activitie s in Malawi, accountability and transparency of NGOs in
their activities; co-ordination and consulta tion with Government in implementation of
activities of NGOs and uniformity in the interpretation of policies.
The Bill seeks to enhance the NGOs contri bution to the economy through provision of
social services and creation of employment by ensuring that this is done efficiently and
Part I of the Bill deals with preliminary issues such as interpretation of words used in the
Bill, objectives of the Bill and exempt organisations.
Part II of the Bill deals with the establishm ent of the NGO Board of Malawi. Issues such
as composition of the Board, disqualification from appointment to the Board, removal of
Board members, tenure of offices, allowa nces of Board members and chairman are
provided for under this Part.
Part III of the Bill deals with issues relating to the Board. Under this Part the Board is
given the power to establish such committees as it deems necessary. Further under this
Part it is mandatory for a Board member to disclose interest in any matter being
considered by the Board.
Part IV of the Bill spells out the duties and functions of the Board and these include:-
a) to consider and adjudicate upon applicati ons for registration by NGOs and ensure due
compliance by the NGOs with the prescr ibed reporting requirements;
b) to determine, for time to time, the incenti ves applicable to NGOs under this Act or any
other written law and make the necessary recommendations to the Minister;
c) commission surveys, inquiries and researc h, with a view to advising the Government
with regard to any matter affecting
NGOs; and
d) appoint a suitably qualified pe rson as a Registrar and such other employees as it may
deem necessary for the discharge of th e duties and functions of the Board.
Part V of the Bill deals with management of the Board, that is the Registrar and the staff
subordinate to him.
Part VI of the Bill deals with registration of NGOs. The Bill makes it mandatory for all

NGOs operating in Malawi to register and lays down the conditions for registration.
This Part also makes provision for the certificate of registration and outlines the reporting
requirements. Further the Part specifies under what conditions registration of NGOs can
be cancelled or withdrawn.
Part VII deals with the designated NGO co-ordinating body. The designated NGO co-
ordinating body is the Council for Non-Govern mental Organisations in Malawi and the
part also provides for the independence
of the coronation body.
Part VIII of the Bill deals with General Assembly and specifies who can attend the
General Assembly.
Part IX of the Bill de als with financial provisions and specifies the sources of funds of
this board which includes any fees, fines and charges payable under the Bill. Also under
this Part the Board is given powers to bo rrow money for meeting its obligations or
discharging its functions. Furt her the Board is given the mandate to invest any surplus
There are also provisions relati ng to accounts, audit and annual reports of the activities of
the Board.
Part X of the Bill deals with fundraising. It specifies whic h NGOs can fundraise from the
Finally Part XI of the Bill deals with mis cellaneous provisions such as provisions relating
to offences and penalties and regulations.


1. This Act may be cited as a Non-G overnmental Organisation Act 2000
and shall come into operation on such date as the Minister may appoint by notice
published in the Gazette.

2. In this Act, unless the content otherw ise requires – “Board” means the Non-
Governmental Organisation of Malawi established under section 6;

“designated NGO Co-ordinating body” means an independent institution representing
Non-Governmental Organisations in Mala wi established under section 24;
“exempt organisation” means an NGO exempted from the provisions of this Act under
section 5;
“international NGO” means an institution or organisation for public benefit purposes,
established under the laws of a country other than Malawi, or established under a treaty

or convention and conduction some or all of its activities in Malawi;
“NGO” means a Non-Governmental Organisa tion constituted for a public benefit
purpose to which the provisions of this Act are applicable.
“public benefit purposes” means organisationa l purposes involving developmental and
charitable purposes including but not lim ited to, educational, health, welfare,
advocacy, cultural, civic, social, recreational, scientific, environmental, or other similar
objects for the benefit of th e general public, a section th ereof or members of the
organisation but excluding involvi ng the activities of a church or religion, trade union,
employers organisation or political party;
“public fundraising” means the soliciting fr om the general public in Malawi, for public
benefit purposes, of contributions of value, whether in cash or in kind, but for the
avoidance of doubt does not include the kind of soliciting directed to member, office
bearers or other persons who have a relati onship with the organisation concerned;
“Registration of NGOs” means the Registrar appointed under section 19;

3. The objectives of this Act are:-
a) to provide the development of a strong i ndependent civil society in Malawi and to
facilitate the formation and effective func tion of NGOs for public benefit purposes;

b) to create a conducive environment for NGO development through Government
provision of incentives;
c) to promote donor and public confidence in the NGO sector, and to encourage the
development of an NGO code of conduct, incorporating principles of fiduciary
integrity, public accountability, democratic decision-making, developmental synergy,
non-discrimination a nd beneficiary
d) to facilitate a relati onship between NGOs and th e Government involving
constructive collaboration and partnership in furtherance of the public interest; and
e) to affirm the human rights and provisions enshrined in the Constitution of the
Republic of Malawi.

4. Save as otherwise provided in this Act, the provisions of this Act
shall apply to an NGO within Malawi which fulfils the following

a) it has written constitution or a governing instrument;
b) it is not established, administered or controlled directly or indirectly by the
Government of Malawi, or any other Government;
c) it applies all its funds and resour ces for public benefit purposed only;
d) it does not transfer or distribute, whether directly or indirectly, any benefit to its
members, donors, trustees, director s or other officers, or their associates or next of kin,
except if such benefits represent:-
(i) reasonable remuneration for se rvices actually rendered; or
(ii) benefits conferred, without favour or discrimination, by reason of the beneficiary
being part of an eligible group or category entitled to benefit in accordance with the
public purpose of the organisation concerned;
e) it is not for private profit or gain for th e persons controlling or managing the affairs of
the NGO without prejudice to the rights and privileges of employees;
f) it is managed or controlled by a committee, Board or Trust;
g) it serves all eligible people, regardless of age, gender, tribe, race, religion, creed, sex,
political affiliation, nationalit y, disability or being a member of a minority group;
h) it is not a church or religion organisation of a purely evangelistic or proselytizing
(i) it is not a political party, trade union or a social club created to pursue the pleasures of
its members;

5. Subject to the provisions of section 20 (2), this Act shall not apply
to an organisation which is:-

a) informal, and does not have a written constitution;
b) excluded so that it belongs to a category of organisations deemed not to fall within the
ambit of this Act;
c) established, administered or controlled by or on behalf of the Malawi Government or
other Government; or
d) specially exempted, so that the Board has determined in its discretion that such
organisation is to be exempted from all or some of the requirements of this Act.


6. – (1). There is hereby established a Boar d to be known as the body corporate having
perpetual succession and a common seal and shall, under that name, be capable of suing
and being sued and of purchasing or ot herwise acquiring, holding and alienating
moveable or immovable property and, subject to the provision of this Act, of performing
all such acts as bodies corporate may by law, perform.

(2) The Board shall function w ithout political or religious bias or interference by donors
or the Government, any organ of th e State, any political party.

7. The Board shall consist of ten members who shall be citizens of Malawi and appointed
as follows:-

a) seven members, at least three of whom shall be women, appointed by the minister in
consultation with CONGOMA
b) the following members ex-officio –
(i) the Secretary for Gender, Yout h and Community Services; and
(ii) the Secretary for Justice
(iii) the Secretary to the Treasury

8. Any person who –

a) is declared bankrupt under any law in force in Malawi;
b) is under any law in force in Malawi, adj udged or otherwise declared to be of unsound
c) has at any time been convicted of an offe nce involving theft, fraud, forgery, perjury or
other dishonesty ;
d) has, within the past five years, been convicted of an office under any written law
punishable by a term of imprisonment of si x months without the option of a fine.
e) Would for any other reason be disqualifie d by law from serving as a director of a
company or a trustee of a trust within Malawi,
shall be disqualified from being a ppointed as a member of the Board.

9. Members of the Board, other than members ex-officio, shall be subject to removal and
substitution anytime, by a decision of:-

a) the minister in consultation with CONG OMA, in the case of a member appointed
under section 7(a); and
b) the Board, in case of a member appointed under section 7(b)

10. (1). A member of the Board, other than a member ex-officio, shall hold office for a
period of three years and at the expiry of th at period shall be eligible for reappointment
for one more similar term.

(2). The office of the member of the Board shall be vacated:-
a) upon his death;
b) upon written resignation delivered to the Board;
c) if any circumstances arise that, if he were not a member , would cause that member to
be disqualified for appointment as member;
d) if he as been absent w ithout valid excuse from three consecutive meetings of the
Board of which he has had notice;
e) if he is incapable of efficiently pe rforming his duties as member of the Board.

11. (1). On vacation of office by a member of the Board, the vacancy shall be filled by a
person appointed in accordance with section 7.

(2). The membership of the Board as first and subsequently appointed and every change
in the membership shall be published in Gazette.

12.The Board may invite any person, based on hi s experience and expertise, to attend any
meeting of the Board and take part in the de liberations of the Board but such person shall
not be entitled to vote at that meeting.

13. Members of the Board shall be paid such honoraria as the Board may determine and
the Board may make provision for the reim bursement of any reasonable expenses
incurred by a member of the Board in conn ection with the business of the Board.

14 (1). The Board shall elect both the Chairman and Vice-Chairman from among t
members who shall, subject to subsection 2, hold office for the duration of t
membership on the Boa heir

t –
d ; d;
te. the an.
(2). The office of the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman shall become vacan
a) if the holder resigns his office by notice to the Boar
b) if the holder of the office ceases to be a member of the Boar
c) if the Board so decides by a two third majority vo
(3). Whenever the Chairman is absent or is for any reason unable to discharge
functions of his office, the Vice -Chairman sh all discharge the functions of the Chairm

15. (1) The Board shall hold ordinary meetings for the dispatch of
business at least once every thr ee months in each year.

(2) No member of the Board shall attend the meetings of the Board by representation
(3) An extraordinary meeting of the Board
a) may be convened by the Chairman within seven days after giving notice to members of the
b) Shall be convened by the Chairman within fourteen days of the receipt by him of a requested in
writing signed by not less than four members of the Board and specifying the purpose for which
the meeting is convened; or
c) If the Chairman does not convene the m eeting requested, the members requesting such
(4) At any meeting of the Board –
a) the chairman or in his absence the Vice-Chairman shall preside;
b) in absence of both the Chairman and the Vice -Chairman the members present shall elect one of
their number to preside;
c) the quorum shall be formed by any six members

(5) At any meeting of the Board a decision on any matter shall be that of the majority of the
members present and voting and in the event of an equality of votes, the person presiding shall
have a casting vote in addition to his deliberative vote.
(6) The Board shall cause minutes to be kept of the proceedings of every meeting of the Board.

16.The Board may, for the better carrying into effect of its purposes and functions under
this Act, establish such committees as the Bo ard shall deem appropriate to perform such
functions and responsibilities as the Board may consider expedient.

17. (1) A member of the Board who has an interest directly or indirectly, in any matter to
be considered by the Board shall, soon after the facts have come to the knowledge of the
member, disclose this fact and the natu re of the interest to the Board.

(2) After the disclosure, the remaining members shall discuss the matter and determine
whether the member should be precluded fr om participating further in the meeting
concerned and the decision taken by the remain ing members regarding the matter shall be
recorded in the minutes of the meeting.
(3) Subject to the provisions of subsection (2), a member wh o has an interest in a matter
that is before the Board and who cannot th erefore perform his functions in a fair,
unbiased and proper manner shall not vote, participate in any other manner in the
proceedings of a meeting of the Board or be present at the venue such a meeting being
(4) Where a member does not comply with the provisions of subsections (1) and (3) then
the proceedings of such a meeting relating to the matter in which he has an interest shall
be void.


18. (1) The Board shall register and regul ate operations of NGOs in Malawi.

(2) Without derogating from the generality of subsection (1), th e Board shall –
a) establish and maintain the register of NGOs, incorporating a data base and a public
documentation centre in respect to NGOs inco rporated or operating within Malawi, and
such additional registers or sub-registers, including such as may relate to exempt
organisations and international NGOs;
b) consider and adjudicate upon applications for registration by NGOs and ensure due
compliance by the NGOs within the pres cribed reporting requirements;
c) withholding, suspend, or withdraw regist ration of NGOs in the event of failure or
refusal to comply with the provision of this Act;
d) provide free public access to the NGO register and database, including the records and

returns of NGOs lodged in the public documentation centre;
e) to determine, form time to time, the incen tives applicable to NGOs under this Act or
any other written law and make the necessary recommendations to the Minister;
f) commission surveys; enquire s and research, with a view to advising the Government
with regard to any matter affecting NGOs;
g) appoint a suitably qualified pe rson as Registrar, and such other employees as it may
deem necessary for the discharge of the duties and functions of Board; and
h) to do all such things as are necessary or incidental or conducive to the better carrying
out of the objectives and functions of the Board specified in this Act.


19. – (1) The Board shall appoint the Registrar who shall be the chief executive of the
Board and Secretary to the Board.

(2) The terms and conditions of service of the Registrar shall be subject to the approval of
the Board.
(3) The Registrar shall establish and maintain the register, administer and implement this
Act and perform such other duties as the Board may, form time to time assign to him.
(4) The Board may appoint, on such term s and conditions, such other employees
subordinate to the Registrar as it may deem n ecessary for the carrying out the functions of
the Board.
(5) The Board may delegate to the Registrar the appointment of employees of such ranks
as the Board may specify.


20. – (1) Every NGO established or operating in Malawi which is recognised as a legal
person under the laws of Malawi , except the exempt organisations, shall register with the

Provided that an NGO existing at the time of coming into force of this Act shall be
required to register within a period of twelve months from coming into force of this Act.
(2) No NGO shall be registered under this Ac t unless a minimum of two of its directors
or trustees, as the case may be , are citizens of Malawi.
3. a) An application for registration sh all be in a prescribed form and

accompanied by –
i) a certified copy of the constitution of the NGO; and
ii) such registration fees as may be prescribed by the Board from time to time.
iii) a plan of the activities which the NGO intends to undertake
iv) approval from the Ministry responsible for the activities to be undertaken by the NGO
in the form of a memorandum of understan ding or any other agreement between the
Ministry and the NGO;
v) proof that the NGO is a member of CONGOMA
vi) a statement that the NGO shall not engage in partisan politics including electioneering
and politicking; and
vii) the source of funding for the NGO
b) The form shall contain the following particulars of the NGO concerned –
(i) name of the NGO
(ii) physical and postal address
(iii) telephone, facsimile and telex numbers where applicable
(iv) the full names, addresses, occupations a nd nationalities of all Trustees, Directors and
other executive Board members
(v) the name and address of the NGO’s aud itors, who are acceptable to the Board;
(vi) the latest available audited annual financial statements and annual report, in respect
of existing NGOs.
(4). a) The Board shall accept or reject an application within a period of ninety days from
the date of the application was received by the Board or the date on which the applicant
provides the information sought by the Bo ard if that date is later.
b) Where the Board rejects an application for registration by an NGO, the Board shall
furnish in writing to the NGO concerned its reasons.

21. (1) The Board shall issu e a certificate of registration to every NGO
registered under the Act.

(2) A certificate of registra tion shall constitute proof that the NGO concerned

a) is a body corporate and separate from its members, with perpetual succession;
b) can engage in public interest activities and public fund-raising throughout Malawi;
c) is eligible for such fiscal or other benefits and privileges, as may be applicable to
registered NGOs from time to time.

22. (1) Every registered NGO shall file wi th the Registrar’s office the following
documents and information which shall be part of the Registry accessible to the public
under section 18 (2) (d) –

a) on an annual basis, and by such date as may be prescribed –
(i) its audited annual fi nancial statements
(ii) its annual report outilini ng the activities undertaken by th e NGO in the year and such
other information as may be prescribed;
(iii) an annual return reflecting details of its trustees, directors, office bearers, auditors
and such other information as may be prescribed;
(iv) its source of funding
b) in the event of any amendment to its cons titution or government instrument, a certified
copy of such amendment, within sixty days of such amendment being adopted; and
c) any such further documentation or informa tion regarding the officers and activities of a
registered NGO which the Board may require.

23. – (1) The Board may order the Registrar to ca ncel or suspend the registration of an
NGO if it is satisfied that the NGO –
a) has ceased to exist or function for the pur poses for which it was constituted; or

b) has failed or refused to comply with the provisions of this Act.
c) has been engaged in partisan politics.

(2) The NGO co-ordinating body may, where it has good and valid reasons, make
recommendations to the Board for cancellation or suspension of the registration of an
(3) An order cancelling or suspending the registration of an NGO under
subsection (1)

shall be issued, unless;
a) the NGO concerned has been given at least thirty days prior written notice, sent to its
last known address; of the Board’s inte ntion to impose such sanction; and
b) the NGO has been an opportunity to be heard either verbally or in writing as the Board
may determine.
(4) Any NGO aggrieved by a decision of the Boar d made under this part may apply to the
High Court for judicial review.


24 (1) The general Assembly shall designa te the Council for Non-Governmental
Organisations in Malawi (in this Act otherwise referre d to as “CONGOMA”) as the
designated NGO co-ordinating body for the purposes of this Act.

(2) As the designated NGO co-ordinating body, CONGOMA shall represent and promote
the collective interest and con cerns of NGOs in Malawi.

25. For purposes of this Act, the f unctions of CONGOMA shall be –

(a) to enhance and improve operational e nvironment within which NGOs function
(b) to promote and facilitate coordination, collaboration and cooperation between the
NGO community, the Governemnet, the Donor Community and the commercial sector in
(c) to durther the standing of NGOs as comp etent, professional and suitable agents of
(d) to support NGOs to become institutionally strong; and
(e) to assist NGOs to carry out their functions under the Act.


26. (1) For purposes of good administration and proper management, CONGOMA shall
hold a General Assembly of the NGOs which shall be attended by the following:-

a) all members of the Board
b) all Board Members of CONGOMA

c) all NGOs registered under this Act
(2) The General Assembly of the NGOs shall be held once every year to transact the
following business –
a) receive a report concerning the activities of the Board during that financial year; and
b) to deal with any matters which the Boar d desires to bring before it and any other
matter or suggestion which the general membership may bring before it:
Provided that no such suggestions shall be considered by the General Assembly unless on
week prior notice in writing is served on th e members before the meeting is held.
(3) A notice convening the General Assembly shall be sent to members not less than
fourteen days before the date of the m eeting and notice shall be accompanied by the
agenda for the meeting.
(4) At the General Assembly the quorum shall be formed by fifty percent of the
(5) At the General Assembly vo ting shall by secret ballot and in the event of an equality
of votes the Chairman or other person presid ing shall have a casting vote in addition to
his deliberative vote.
(6) The general public may attend the General Assembly as observers and shall not
directly participate in the proceedings of the General Assembly but may make their
observations in writing to the Chairman.
(7) The Chairperson of the Board of CONGOMA shall preside at the General assembly


27. (1) The funds of the Board shall consist of –
a) any fees, fines and charges payable under this Act; and
b) such other moneys and assets as may accrue to or vest in the Board by way of
donation, loan or otherwise received by the Board

28. The Board shall have power to borrow eith er temporarily, by way of overdraft or
otherwise, such sums as it may require, for meeting its obligations
or discharging its functions under this Act.
Provided that any such borrowing shall be approved by the General Assembly

29. The Board may invest any money in such a manner as the Board
may deem expedient.

30. The financial year of the Board shall be period of twelve months as
the Board shall determine:
Provided that the first financial year of the Board may be such shorter or longer period
that twelve months as the Bo ard shall determine but being not less than six months nor
more than eighteen months.

31. (1) The Board shall keep proper accounts and other acco unting records in accordance
with the general accepted account principles and practice.
(2) The accounts of the Board shall be audited annually by independent auditors
appointed by the Board and approved by the General Assembly.

32. (1) As soon as practicable, but not later that six months after expiry of each financial
year, the Board shall submit to all members of the General Assembly and the Ministry
responsible a report concerning its activities during th at financial year.
(2) The Report referred to in subsection (1) shall include information on the financial
affairs of the Board, and there shal l be appended to the report –
a) an audited balance sheet
b) an audited statement of income and expenditure;
c) such other information as the Board may consider appropriate.


33. Every NGO registered under this Act, incl uding an exempt organisation which is
registered, may solicit and accept funds a nd contributions and engage in public
fundraising for the furtherance of its public benefit purposes as it may deem appropriate,
subject to compliance with th e reporting requirements prescr ibed under this Act, or any
other written law.


34 An NGO which contravenes the provisions of Act shall be guilty of an offence and
liable on conviction to a fine of K50,000.00 or an amount equivalent to the financial
gains generated by the offence whichever is the greater.

35. (1) The Minister may, on the advice of the Board, make regulations for carrying out
or giving effect the provisions of this Act and without prejudice to the generality of the
foregoing such regulations may –

a) prescribe fees payable –
(i) upon application for registration;
(ii) for restoration to a register
(iii) for any other matter under this Act; and
b) prescribe the forms required to be prescribed under this Act.
(2) A regulation made under subsection (1) ma y, notwithstanding the provision of General
Interpretation Act prescribe penalties for any c ontravention of its provisions or failure to
comply therewith, involving the imposition of
a fine not increasing K25,000.00.

36. This Act shall not derogate from terms of any agreement or similar arrangement
concluded between the Government and any NGO prior to the coming into force of this
Act with reference to the operations of any such NGO in Malawi.

The object of this Bill is to make be tter provision for the registration and
operation on Non-Governmental Organisation in Malawi.

Attorney Genera l