When Global Fund announced that it would no longer provide funding to the National Aids Commission (NAC) and that Malawi has been struck off from the list as a Principal Recipients (PR), government in the name of Minister of Health, Jean Kalilani and Chief Secretary to Government, George Mkondiwa, came out blazing and said this is a small matter.
They even went further to give their thoughts as to what might have led to the fund freeze. The aid cut, they said, was as a result of some restructuring process that Global Fund is currently undertaking, which has affected many countries around the world, and that Malawi is just unfortunate to be caught on the wrong side of that restructuring ambit.
To confirm that Global Fund’s decision is ‘nothing serious’, Dr. Jean Kalilani said NAC would continue to be the chief coordinating agency for Malawi’s response against HVV/AIDS and Tuberculosis. She said there were still enough funds in NAC’s coffers to last for some time, and told Malawians not to panic. This was a careless statement from the honourable minister and many people strongly disagree with her assertions that this not a serious matter.
In fact, it is a reason for which she and her compatriots must silently mull over and find a quick solution. She must lead the process to put enough cautioning mechanism against the yet-to-be-felt backlash, not in a too distant future. Among many things, NAC was using funding from Global Funds to enroll many students on medical scholarships at different universities around the world, studying various medical disciplines.
Through NAC, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was also paying salaries for some Medical Doctors working in various health priority areas around the country. All these programmes are beginning to go the way of Global Fund.
The salaries for the Medical Doctors have dried up and the students have just been informed they may have to come back if government does not find resources quickly.
Meanwhile, government is still holding on to its sexy line of everything-is-okay as if nothing has happened. President Mutharika and his government should have seen the Global Fund’s decision coming. The organization has an office in the country with monitoring officers very much on the ground.
These officers took notice when NAC was dishing out freebies to Gertrude Mutharika’s Beautify Malawi Trust (BEAM), Peter Mutharika’sMulhakowaAlhomwe and Nicholas Dausi’s National Intelligence Bureau (NIB), none of which is a deserving organization with any core mandate to fight HIV/AIDS.
The Global Fund officers were also there when Collins Magalasi and his friend, Mabvuto Bamusi, went to town on anyone who dared criticize the First Lady’s BEAM or dared the organization to return the wrongly obtained cash. The duo went into a propaganda overdrive, demonizing members of the civil society and individuals who protested NAC’s move to disburse funds to these organizations.
Did Peter Mutharika and his officers think Global Fund never took notice of this? Did they think Global Fund was so myopic? NAC has always been in the limelight for all the wrong reasons. If it’s not suspending its Executive Director for mysterious reasons, then some hot-headed State House Official is dipping into its kitty for personal gain.
Just recently, the organization was petitioned by the Forum for National Development (FND) for failing to support the work of Community Based Organizations (CBOs) across the country over the past years, yet it is these CBOs that are on the forefront of HIV and AIDS fight in Malawi. The forum accused NAC and government for overlooking the work of the CBOs in the past 5 years, and instead focusing only on institutional capacity work rather than front line work for HIV/AIDS fight. It called on NAC to immediately begin disbursing funds to core organizations that are really fighting HIV/AIDS.
Despite its diplomatic statements that NAC failed to meet some funding criteria, what Global Fund really wanted to say was ‘we-have-stopped-funding-NAC-because-BEAM-was-stubborn-with-our-money’. The BEAM and Mulhako wa Alhomwe issues were just the final straw that broke the Camel’s back. It is not that Jean Kalilani and George Mkondiwa are not aware of the real reasons why Global Fund struck out Malawi as a Principal Recipient. They are pretty much aware but the political beast has once again been allowed to rear its ugly head. They are only keen to continue the same Magalasi/Bamusi tired line to project the picture that everything is normal despite Global Fund’s decision.
Common guys, a major donor has just fiddled with his US$300 million and you pretend that everything is normal; all because the issue involves the President’s wife? This is extremely dangerous politics considering that budgetary donor support is yet to resume and does not seem to be appearing on the horizon anytime soon. The country has also come into sharp focus for scoring some marks as the poorest in the world Malawi. How President Mutharika and cronies still manage to be arrogant under these circumstances beat many of us. It seems our President is the only person in this country who does not understand that this country face monumental challenges that call for a thorough fixing.
The first step towards fixing a problem, Mr. President, is to first admit that ‘ng’ombe zayang’ana kudambo’. Mutharika and cronies must quickly spruce up and start governing. For real!Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :