NGO Regulatory Authority (NGORA)--a state-owned registrar and regulator of all NGOs and Civil Society organizations--engaged general secretaries for various denominations and religious bodies to orient them on the NGO Amendment Act 2022.
The orientation was held at Mponela in Dowa and opened by Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati.
The meeting also gave faith leaders the opportunity to give their input into the regulations NGORA is developing for operationalization of the act.
In her remarks, Kaliati commended NGORA for organizing the orientation, saying religious institutions have social arms through which they do charity work and implement various projects like NGOs.
Kaliati stressed that religious leaders, therefore, play an important role, not only in spiritual matters but also in the development of the country.
"As a result, it is important that faith leaders get ahead of everyone else in terms of understanding the NGO Law and its expectations.
"They are role models in communities and able to lead, provide guidance and inspire people. Through their influence, they motivate people for social good.
"I, therefore, look forward to seeing them using the knowledge they have gained in helping in the development of this country," Kaliati said.
Presidential Advisor on Religious Affairs, Reverend Brian Kamwendo, said he was impressed with the faith leaders' enthusiasm to understand the NGO Law and give their input into regulations.
"The level of discussion was cordial, as faith leaders were able to ask pertinent questions, which the team from NGORA ably handled and clarified," he said.
Episcopal Conference of Malawi Vice General Secretary, Father Valeriano Mtseka, said he hoped such meetings would continue in order to strengthen understanding of the NGO Law among religious leaders.
"We are enlightened. I encourage my fellow leaders to share the knowledge gained with others who did not attend this meeting.
"NGORA should continue engaging us so that we fully know what is happening in the NGO sector and what is required of us to do," he said.
NGORA is consulting various stakeholders to get their input into regulations for operationalization of the NGO Amendment Act, with the first awareness meeting having been held in June last year. The meeting had attracted scores of NGO and CSO leaders.
Besides expected improved regulation and coordination of the NGO sector, the NGO Amendment Act also led to changing the name of the NGO Board of Malawi to NGO Regulatory Authority, with its functions enhanced in order to ably fulfill its mandate.