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CRIDOC stops MANASO Board of Directors from discharging duties

Child Rights Information and Documentation Centre (CRIDOC) – one of the child-centred organizations in Malawi – has obtained a court order stopping the Board of Directors for Malawi Network of AIDS Service Organizations (MANASO) from discharging its duties, arguing its mandate expired a long time ago.

CRIDOC Executive Director Edward Phiri confirmed in an interview after sharing a press release earlier on Wednesday, adding that the decision was made by his organization’s board at a meeting held on 3rd March 2023.

Phiri disclosed that CRIDOC Board of Trustees passed a resolution to seek litigation against MANASO Board of Trustees on the basis that their [MANASO] actions are illegal since their term of office expired and are now into fourth term without calling for Bi-Annual General Meeting.

“Their actions have a direct bearing on CRIDOC as a paid-up member. In light of this development, the Board of Trustees applied for an injunction against MANASO’s Board of Trustees filed at the High Court in Lilongwe on 21st April 2023 based on the following provisions of the revised MANASO Constitution (2013),” he said in a phone interview.

According to a press release, which Phiri has co-signed with his Board Chairperson Cyprian Chimbiya, the MANASO Board contravened Article 36, which stipulates that i) A member of the Board of Trustees shall hold office for three years and shall be eligible for re-nomination for a further period of three; ii) No Trustee may serve more than two consecutive full terms of office.

However, since 2013 when the Biannual General Meeting (BGM) was held, up-to-date no BGM was conducted and the board has been automatically renewing its tenure, they are now into their fourth term of office.

Maziko Mtemba

“Congruently, the Board also contravened MANASO constitution by allowing Regional Committees to operate without elections to serve for a term of two years subject to re-election for another last term, but to-date they are serving their 10th tenure. The Board also created a district committee structure which is not provided for in the constitution,” reads the statement in part.

Phiri and Chimbiya are further accusing the MANASO Board of failing to uphold and comply with the Core Values of MANASO as enshrined in Article 12 as follows: Be accountable to those we serve, partners, donors and each other; Be transparent in our decision making and actions; Remain committed to our duties and those we serve and work with; Promote diversity and inclusion in our actions, programming, and messaging; and Demonstrate mutual respect for others and each other.

It also accused MANASO Board of Directors of failure to comply with Article 29 among which stipulates that; The Trustees have a fiduciary duty to MANASO, which requires them to exercise their powers in the best of the organization as per detailed in the Board of Trustees Manual; and Act reasonably, prudently, and in good faith, with a focus on the best interest of the organization.

The MANASO Board is further criticized for contravening Article 14 which stipulates that; 1) Bi-Annual General Meeting (BGM) shall be held every two years.

There was no immediate response from the accused MANASO Board of Directors, which comprises Maziko Matemba as Board Chairperson, Lillian Dindi Kumwenda as Vice Chairperson, Bishop Silent Mtambo (Board Member from Ebenezer Foundation), Nelson Zakeyu (Board Member from Drug Fight Malawi), Gift Mwale (Board Member from Kasalika Community Development Organisation) Edward Kammunda (Board Member from Ladders for Development), Agness Mangoche and Philip Nthobwa.

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