Following the crisis of the Organisation of Gambians in Sweden (OGIS) in 2016, a group of concerned Gambians (CG) came together and decided to engage the parties to the conflict in a bid to find a solution to the crisis. An investigation was started by the group to understand, solve and provide recommendations to avoid the occurrence of such problems in the future. The Concerned Gambians (hereinafter to be referred to as CG) held a series of meetings with the parties to the conflict, examined evidence and studied the OGIS constitution to reach conclusions regarding the crisis and offer recommendations for the way forward.
The following are among the conclusions reached:
1. OGIS is without a legal executive committee. The procedures and regulations laid down in the constitution regarding elections were blatantly ignored, manipulated or misused due to ignorance. There is therefore no legal executive and any claim to such is baseless and without merit.
2. The OGIS constitution has been overtaken by events and is deficient. It must be completely reviewed and strengthened.
3. OGIS is a one-event organisation that is only active during the cultural week. This must be changed in order to achieve the goals of its founders and provide services to the Gambian community.
4. The OGIS executive committees have been manipulated by non-executive members, some of whom have business interests.
5. There are no financial mechanisms that ensure that the organisation’s finances are properly handled. There is no accountability, limited transparency and no budgetary mechanism to ensure that activities carried out are in line with constitutional requirements or Swedish law.
6. Those with responsibilities or positions in the organisation blatantly refuse to carry out their responsibilities with impunity.
7. There is no functioning auditor and this has been the reality for the past years. This means that there is no oversight function and the executive can act with impunity.
8. No party to the current OGIS crisis nor any other person or group can organaise any event in the name of OGIS, use its organisation number, enter into contracts either written or verbal, incur any costs on behalf of the organisation or in any way act as an agent or representative of the organisation. Any such action resulting in costs or damages to OGIS must not be accepted by the organisation.
9. OGIS is not organizing a cultural week for 2017 because there is no executive committee and no group or individual should claim to organise such in its name. All contracts entered into in the name of OGIS are deemed null and void and any liabilities and attendant repercussions must be borne by those who entered into the contracts.
10. The OGIS bank account and other properties must not be released from the currently recognised custodians and signatories to protect them. They should only be released to a legally elected executive committee after mechanisms are put in place to protect them from misuse.
11. All the people who have money or other properties belonging to OGIS must return them. The next executive should where possible, demand that such be returned to OGIS.
12. Several people tasked with responsibilities have acted unilaterally or arbitrarily and abused the trust they were entrusted with. This has meant that protocol and procedures were ignored in favour of actions and behaviour antithetical to the interests of OGIS with attendant devastating effects for the organisation and Gambian community.
The following are among the recommendations submitted by the CG:
1. The constitution should be revamped and strengthened. A constitutional revision and amendment group should be instituted with the task of working on it so that it can work on it and present the amendments at the next general assembly for discussion and adoption.
2. The two-year mandate period for the executive is too long. The length of the executive committee’s mandate period needs to be shortened to one year with the possibility of re- election for a further one year.
3. A Financial Committee composed of three competent people should be created within the provisions of the constitution and elected to stand outside the executive committee and be tasked with the responsibility of examining, scrutinising and approving budgets and other financial actions of the executive committee.
4. It should be made a requirement through constitutional provisions that all elected to the executive committee must attend a course on and about the OGIS constitution to fully understand it, a course on voluntary organisations and their roles and responsibilities in Swedish society, a course on conflict management and resolution etc.
5. A temporary group should be created to work towards reforming and strengthening OGIS and guiding it towards the election of the next executive committee at the next annual general meeting in January 2018.
6. Young, competent Gambians should be encouraged to take over the OGIS executive. They should be protected through constitutional provisions from manipulation, intimidation and all methods that can be used to control and make it impossible for them to effectively carry out their functions.
7. A transparent, modern and effective accounting system should be created to deal with minor expenditures. No cash should be given to anyone for any reason. All payments must be made through payment of bills or bank transfers that leave a paper trail.
8. The services of an accounting / auditing firm should be contracted to take care of invoicing, bill payment, money collection at OGIS events and other activities that involve expenditure and revenue generation.
9. None of the parties to this conflict should be part of the next OGIS executive.
10. Conflicts of interest should be avoided by OGIS in all dealings and by all members of its executive in particular and membership in general.
11. All the organisation’s activities that involve spending must be properly budgeted for and the budget must be approved by both the Financial Committee and the general body.
12. Every new executive committee must outline a 12-month program of activities latest one month after taking office. This program of activities will detail all the activities the executive wishes to carry out. The budgets for these activities will be detailed and submitted for approval.
This report should be kept as an OGIS historical document to be studied by future executive committee and ordinary members to learn from the mistakes of this crisis to avoid repeating it.
Thank you. Concerned Gambians.
30th. June 2017.
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