The Hijacking of NGOs

Non-governmental organisations, commonly known as NGOs, are legally constituted organisations created by people that operate independently from any form of government. NGOs generally work in different fields of life, but are most commonly associated with the groups seeking some social change and improvement on social grounds. The term originated from the United Nations, and commonly refers to organisations that are not part of a government and are not conventional for-profit businesses; these organisations work on a non-profit basis and fight for social causes. The term is usually applied only to organisations that pursue wider social aims that have political aspects, but are not openly political organisations such as political parties, and do not seek any personal profit or payment for their service towards the community.

The importance of NGOs within the United Nations system was emphasised in a recent statement to a working group of the United Nations Economic & Social Council (ECOSOC), set up to review arrangements for consultation with NGOs. NGOs help democracy work properly. They do this by making it easier for people to get information about how their country is being run, helping the public communicate with politicians, and making sure that governments do not abuse their powers.

When politicians or pseudo-politicians, hijack or themselves create NGOs for specific political purposes, then this particular sin becomes not venial or mortal, but indeed sacrilegious. It is sacrilegious because this act is purposely hiding a partisan political agenda with a thinly veiled projection of supposed impartiality or political independence when there is none. It is sacrilegious because it brings into disrepute the valid work of other truly independent NGOs on the subject matter. It is sacrilegious because the perpetrators try to influence by interpolation the thought processes of the listening public.

NGOs help democracy work properly.

Psuedo-politicians have created a supposedly impartial NGO called the Civil Society Network. Even the name itself is unflinchingly a bare-faced attempt to insult the intelligence of the listening public. How dare they project themselves as the voice of all civil society when they are not? I am an active member of Malta’s civil society. But I can safely guarantee that there was never an instance when this supposed NGO spoke in my name. More than half of Malta is labour-leaning. As supposed exponents of civil society, I challenge them to show all and sundry a membership which embraces such a percentage of the population, hence civil society. They naturally cannot, since this is all a political messinscena.

One will find another blatant messinscena happening with the other twin NGO called Repubblika, which is striving hard to be seen as the real conservative opposition instead of projecting its supposed political independence. Apart from trying to manipulate opinion with its own name Repubblika, which is so dear to all Labourites with its historical invoking of Dom Mintoff’s long road to unfetter Malta from its colonial and religious chains (which culminated with the creation of the Republic of Malta in 1974 under a Labour government), this supposed NGO’s leadership (all activists of a specific faction within the opposition Nationalist Party) sincerely believes that God has exalted them to a position akin to King Solomon. They can be the judge, jury and executioner of anything under the Maltese sun, since no one else, especially those horrible Labour hamalli, have an IQ akin to them.

They want everyone to resign. They want the Maltese electorate to forgo elections since they are too stupid to elect their representatives. They want…they want…everything is all about what these disgruntled dinosaurs of a conservative past want.

In their narcissistic, arrogant and hawkish approach to politics, they have ensured that those members of the electorate who might well have felt the urge to vote for the opposition in the coming election do not do so. They have ensured that the work done by both the present opposition leader and his immediate predecessor in creating the necessary catharsis within the Nationalist Party be doomed from the very start. They have ensured that the very political pendulum which I wrote about in a previous article has been irretrievably and negatively manipulated against their very own opposition party. They have thus created a democratic deficit. They have a lot to answer for. Although Labour should be rubbing its hands in glee due to their self-destructive antics.

This is not the first time that the Nationalist Party, or elements within it, manipulated NGOs for partisan interests. Way back in my youth, I was very active within the student and youth NGO sector. As Chairman of the national students’ movement, and later within the Young Socialists, I was an officer and delegate of the Malta Federation of Youth Movements, which was the predecessor of the National Youth Council. I remember supposedly independent student NGOs meeting in the political offices of PN parliamentarians.

I remember how supposedly independent NGOs used to get funding and material assistance from Tal-Pieta. I remember supposedly independent NGO activists being coached by the same ‘independent’ coach who mentored Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando before the 2008 general elections. I remember supposedly independent NGOs being coached to get their members arrested whilst protesting under a Labour government. I remember NGO delegates of all right-wing youth and student NGOs, including ‘independent’ church youth organisations and phantom ‘social’ organisations being soldiered and given marching orders from tal-Pieta’.

So this is not something new at all. But my question at this very moment is the following: whilst the Nationalist Party youth organisation is busy sunbathing on deckchairs in front of Parliament; whilst Repubblika activists are running around in jeeps all over B’Kara ensuring that Edward Zammit Lewis is re-elected; whilst these supposed ‘independent’ NGOs are daily calling for the heads of every one they do not like – from the President of the Republic of Malta to the previous leader of the Nationalist Party – why is the space normally occupied by left-leaning NGOs being left in a vacuum?

There is a distinct and essential need for the left to be properly represented within civil society. Appendixes of the Labour Party’s Hamrun Headquarters or the Marsa One Complex are maybe enough for a Labour victory come next elections. But in the long-term, there will come a time within Malta’s left-wing forces where such an absence will be sorely felt. Just saying.

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