January 13, 2015 business in Malawi cities and possibly other urban areas, will come to a standstill once again as the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have announced its the date they will take to the streets to protest against failure for First Lady Gertrude Mutharika seven days to return the money her organisation Beautify Malawi (Beam) Trust took from National Aids Commission (NAC.
CSOs had given the First Lady seven days to return the funds that had nothing to do with Aids activities.
The President’s spouse said it would not refund the money, arguing she sent letters to many organisations and not just NAC to fund her Trust.
The news conference took place at Riverside Lodge in Lilongwe where panel constituted: Gift Trapence (Cedep executive director), Patson Gondwe (CHRR Programmes Manager), Safari Mbewe (MANET +) , David Kamkwanda, Macdonald Sembereka (MANERELA executive director). Timothy Mtambo (CHRR executive director) and Martha Kwataine (MEHN executive director) were absent as Mtambo is outside the country (but was represented by Gondwe) and Kwataine was sick.
“These scheduled peaceful national demonstrations, apart from expressing Nac-Gate grievances and calling for swift action on the matter, shall also provide the platform for the citizens to express all the current concerns bordering on economic, political and human rights fronts in the face of a government that has adopted a wait and see or business as usual approach in the midst of these crisis,” Sembereka said.
Gift Trapence of CEDEP said media responses by the Beautify Malawi Trust and NAC have not only exposed contradictions and resurfacing of ‘executive arrogance’ but also “how heartless, insensitive and selfish the current regime and the said institutions are in the face of those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS in the country a scenario that puts our national collective efforts towards the reduction of HIV and AIDS for healthy and productive nation in jeopardy.”
He said Malawians should be “scared” as to whether their public HIV AIDS funds and any other health related ones are safe in view of the calibre of characters entrusted to manage and coordinate such funds in the best interest of the nation and public health.
“The very fact that President Mutharika’s wife Gertrude – who happens to be the matron of the BEAM) and his advisor on Non-governmental Organisations Mavuto Bamusi – who is supposed to advise the President on the negative implications of using HIV and AIDS funds for unrelated activities like ‘buying dinner tables’ – are engrossed in ‘executive arrogance’ by seeing no ‘evil’ in using HIV and AIDS funds for other unrelated activities should be a source of concern not only to the general public but also to the government and the President in particular especially considering the fact that the two are very close to the President, and often speak the President’s mind,” Trapence added, reading a statement endorsed by the CSOs.
The CSOs said they will not relent in their efforts in demanding that BEAM, amongst other undeserving beneficiaries, pays back the money meant for HIV AIDS purposes.
“Lest be assured we should do this without fear and favour,” said Mbewe/
They also noted that President Mutharika and his government [through Ministry of Health) continued silence on the matter is doing more harm than good to the government’s image locally and internationally.
“Why is the President quiet? Does it mean that ‘NAC-gate’ saga is of no ultimate concern to his government’s professed efforts towards reduction of HIV and AIDS in the country? Why is the President not condemning the act, and calling for swift independent investigations in the matter? For no doubt the President’s silence on the matter is making a lot of noise, and to a greater extent his silence may be implied as consent to the malpractice,” Mbewe said.
The CSOs said President Mutharika’s silence on ‘NAC-gate’ means consent to the malpractice.
The stated that the First Lady Mutharika’s consents having received the K5, 000, 000 million grant for her BEAM Trust but defending herself of not using any political influence to get the money is a “contradiction.”
“More insulting is NAC’s defence of release of funds for Mulhakho wa Lomwe function as part of its ‘high level advocacy initiatives’. How does NAC define ‘high level advocacy initiatives# for HIV and AIDS? Did we really see any ‘high level advocacy initiatives’, or even ‘low level advocacy initiatives’, on HIV and AIDS in both functions.
“If NAC defines ‘high level advocacy initiatives on HIV and AIDS’ as such, then we should all be afraid of entrusting a body whose minimum targets and standards for measuring HIV and AIDS advocacy and impact initiatives are far beyond the public and global expectations. Which budget line did NAC use for these initiatives? NAC statement did not manage to address any of our concerns, if truth be told.”
Mutharika asked for K5 million for her Beam Trust and Mulhako wa Alomwe was given K9 million. These donations come against the background of NAC announcing that it would scale down its funding mechanisms in HIV and Aids due to funding.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :