Civil Society Organisations in Malawi which led the January 13 national demonstrations over the National Aids Commission (NAC) misdirecting of HIV/AIDS funds to institutions that have nothing to do with HIV/AIDS response have hit back at government and activist Billy Banda for blaming the stripping of the commission’s principal recipient (PR) status of Global Fund grants on the CSOs’ alleged lack of patriotism, branding government’s accusations as “baseless and senseless”
Malawi government through the Minister of Information Kondwani Nankhumwa and Minister of Health Jean Kalilani recently accused Civil Society Organisations in Malawi under the Anti-NAGATE barner for reporting the diverting of NAC funding to entities that do not directly deal with HIV/AIDS intervention solely based on political manipulation or abuse in NAC’s HIV/AIDS grant decision making processes to Global Fund describing them as lacking patriotism.
Kalilani said “w hy should right-thinking Malawians be at the forefront asking Global Fund to suspend its support for us. Let us be positive. Let us be patriotic.”
Government’s accusations were earlier this week echoed by Malawi Watch executive director Billy Banda, who following his appointment by President Peter Mutharika as chairperson of Malawi Gaming Board (MGB) and National Lotteries Board (NLB), has remained a staunch ruling DPP activist and one of government’s sponsored agents that steadfastly worked hard to frustrate the 13th January 2015 anti-NAgate demonstrations.
However, in a joint statement issued by Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN), Centre for Development of People (Cedep), Malawi Network of Religious Leaders Living with HIV/AIDS (MANERELA) and Malawi Network of People Living with HIV AIDS (MANET+) the anti-NACgate CSOs describe their critics remarks as “utterly fallacious”.
“According to the concerned officials, patriotism means dealing with the matters domestically, rather than reporting them to the international community. What a misplacement of reason,” reads the statement signed by Safari Mbewe, Martha Kwataine, Macdonald Sembereka, Gift Trapence and Timothy Mtambo.
But when queried if indeed they reported NAC developments to the Global Fund prompting the fund to remove it from the PR status, Mtambo told The Nation that the world is a global village and the Global Fund or United Nations agencies have representatives in the country who could have reported the issues to head offices.
To that end, the CSOs, reads the statement, have distanced themselves from claims that they influenced the Global Fund to suspend funding to Malawi through NAC, saying the fund has all the capacity to make independent decisions on the status of NAC.
“We would like to underscore the cardinal fact that one of the core mandates of a civil society worth its salt in the country is to provide oversight and, if need be, offer recommendations to government executions for the benefit of the citizens. And this does not have to be at the mercy of an ‘invisible hand’ as Malawi Watch would want Malawians to believe,” reads the statement.
The rights groups add that NACgate was one such a scenario that seriously challenged the over-sight role of civil society in Malawi, cognizant of the devastating impact cash-gate had already done to the country.
“Having discovered that NAC had un-procedurally granted funding to Beam Trust and Mhlakho wa Lomwe— institutions that are nowhere near strategically placed in the National HIV and AIDs Response—we the CSOs found it imperative to ask government to take tough measures against the resource-abuse at NAC. Refund by the Beam Trust and Mhlako wa Lomwe, overhauling of NAC Board to necessitate its independence and professionalism were some of the recommendations we offered to government. We even offered room for dialogue on the matter. But what did we get in return? Executive arrogance peppered with government propaganda aimed at demonising the CSOs under the anti Nac-gate banner” reads the statement
The CSOs said they could not be part of the docile citizenry that tacitly supported NAC-gate in the name of “patriotism.
“We will never sacrifice the social accountability movement at the altar of a professed patriotism. We will never be part of those hand clappers who entertain evil under the guise of patriotism. Malawians of good will are the best judges of who a true patriot is in the NACgate saga,” reads the statement
Recently, one of Malawi’ leading print media Malawi News also queried Malawi government’s recent accusations of anti-NACGATE CSOs as lacking patriotism, arguing that before blaming others as being unpatriotic, government should examine the actions of those who dined and wined on the account of Aids/HIV money and consider whether they are true patriots or not.
At least 22 Civil Society Organisations staged nationwide demonstrations on 13th January 2015 in protest over diverting of NAC funding to entities that do not directly deal with HIV/AIDS intervention solely based on political manipulation or abuse in NAC’s HIV/AIDS grant decision making processes and deteriorating state of governance, rule of law and human rights.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :