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NGOs in Kenya read mischief in deregistration threats, welcome Devolution CS Anne Waiguru's directive

By Patrick Alushula | October 31st 2015

Civil Society Organisations Reference Group wants Cabinet Secretary for Devolution and Planning Anne Waiguru to overhaul NGO Coordination Bureau for unwarranted punitive measures against NGOs.

Yesterday the group welcomed Waiguru's decision to reverse the directive by NGO coordination bureau that had put more than 900 NGOs at the risk of deregistration over alleged embezzlement of donor funds and money laundering.

Led by CSO Reference Group Executive Director Njeri Kababeri, they claim that the bureau was about to commit a grave policy mistake by deregistering organisations based on factual errors and unsubstantiated allegations. She said that the bureau never gave them a chance to clarify any audit query.

"Many of the organisations were not given an opportunity to clarify audit questions but only heard about it on mass media. In doing so, the Bureau violated the principles of natural justice, the right to reply and fair administrative justice," said Ms Kababeri.

Kenya Human Rights Commission distanced itself from any form of malpractice and confirmed that it will write to The Commission on Administrative Justice (CAJ) to seek for administrative and legal action.

"The board usually acknowledges the receipt of our reports and commits to revert if there are any issues. It has never done that and that is why we are amazed by this unethical act," said Davis Malombe, the acting KHRC Executive Director.

The group insists that the move by the bureau is witch hand and is not based on facts. It refuted allegations that Sh23 billion of the donor funds cannot be accounted for saying that the 2013 NGO Coordination Board 2013 shows that on average 67 per cent of NGO budget is used on their programmes while only 33 per cent goes to overheads.

"How did the bureau know how money is unaccounted for yet they never go to the NGOs to scrutinize them? Most donors are very much satisfied with our work in Kenya and that is why they continue to fund us," said Francis Kagema of African Council of Religious Leaders.

The over 40 year old sector is now blaming its woes on lack of PUBLIC Benefits Organisations Act (PBO). Despite the act being signed to law in January 2013 by the then President Mwai Kibaki, NGOs are questioning why it was never implemented but instead, amendments on the same begun.

NGOs claim that the amendments are meant to harm the 2013 act and reduce space for PBOs to operate. They appealed to the cabinet secretary to act urgently so that the act is implemented.

"The sector is slowly being choked to death by clumsy, short-sighted legislations. We will continue to press for the full implementation of the PBO act (2013)," vowed the group.

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