Mar 7, 2014, 10:07 AM
The opposition Gambia Moral Congress (GMC) has made arguably the strongest response yet to a government’s directive asking the Pro-Poor Advocacy Group (Pro-PAG) to replace its chairperson and director, condemning what it said is the interference of the Gambia Government in the internal affairs of NGOs in the manner manifested against Pro-PAG.
In a statement sent to this paper yesterday and signed by its party leader, Mai Ahmad Fatty, the GMC urged the Gambia government to “create the enabling conditions for Pro-PAG and similar NGOs to thrive and allow them to participate in national development efforts.”
It would be recalled that Pro-PAG, an NGO, last Saturday convened what it said was an “emergency meeting” to discuss “directives” received from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs in Banjul seeking, among others, for the group to replace its chairperson and director.
Below we reproduce the full text of the GMC statement:
It is regrettable that the Gambia Government now dictates the internal affairs of NGOs, including directing who were to be appointed principal officers. The recent letter from the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, Mr. Modou Secka, to Pro-PAG unquestionably attests to this debilitating fact.
The threat to deregister the NGO if Government’s unreasonable demands were not complied with, asserts pernicious influence not only on Pro-PAG, but on all NGOs legitimately operating in the country. Such a precedent militates against the spirit of participatory developmental processes, the growth of ingenuity, creativity and puts the attainment of PRSPs and MDGs at risk.
The Gambia Government has repeatedly requested for effective civil society partnership in the achievement of national development goals, including Vision 2020. The NGO community has been the best non state partners to the Government over the years.
GMC noted that Pro-PAG is one of the most effective NGOs in the history of The Gambia, and have proven to be apolitical, engaging in pure development policy related activities. Its members have equally demonstrated the greatest sense of purpose, objectivity and professionalism in the execution of their mandate.
It is curious that The Gambia Government has not given any policy based reasons for dictating terms to the membership of an independent NGO in the conduct of its internal matters.
The Government has no business dictating to NGOs how to administer their internal affairs, in so far as no Gambian laws were violated. In the instant situation, Government has not shown that Pro-PAG was in breach of any law, policy, rule or regulation.
GMC condemns the interference of the Gambia Government in the internal affairs of NGOs in the manner manifested against Pro PAG.
We urge the Gambia Government to create enabling conditions for Pro-PAG and similar NGOs to thrive and allow them to participate in national development efforts.
GMC considers this undue interference not only as an effort to inject partisan politics into the affairs of an independent development agency; we also consider it as act of control, contrary to good governance and democratic practices.
The Government should not be seen to be venturing into this form of unproductive enterprise, while shutting its eyes to the living difficulties being experienced daily by our citizens.
GMC has a better Plan in fostering appropriate enabling environment that would render the operating conditions of NGOs, CBOs and other non-state actors in our development process effective, collaborative and cooperative.