The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria has suspended financing Malawi over the controversy with National Aids Commission (NAC) finances.
Money from NAC is currently a centre of controversy after the organisation spent K5 million during the launch of First Lady Gertrude Mutharika’s Beautify Malawi (Beam) Trust.
Some civil society organisations (CSOs) are demanding a refund of the money and have threatened national demonstrations on January 13.
Sources say Global Fund has with immediate effect stopped financing Malawi by suspending the Principal Recipient status for NAC. This means in the meantime, the Aids commission will no longer be receiving direct aid from Global Fund.
But President Peter Mutharika’s chief economic adviser Dr Collins Magalasi is on record saying government has spoken to the Global Fund and obtained an assurance that its relationship with Malawi remains warm despite the NAC controversy christened by CSOs as ‘Nacgate’.
Magalasi said he spoke directly to the Global Fund’s executive director, Dr Mark Dybul, who assured there will be no negative consequence.
“You must appreciate that the Global Fund supports us with between $600 million [K300 billion] and $700 million [K350 billion]. This is an enormous contribution to the economy. Therefore, government had to move in quickly to make sure that its larger strategic and economic interests are safeguarded,” said Magalasi as quoted in the local press.
NAC board chairperson Mara Kum’bweza Banda also claimed Global Fund was “satisfied” with their explanation on the money controversy.
One of the organisers of the demonstrations planned to compel Beam to refund the money, Gift Trapence—executive director of Centre for the Development of the People (Cedep)—has maintained the protest march will proceed because “people of Malawi that are expecting a refund “and that the claim that NAC spoke to the Global Fund has not been verified as credible.
There are millions of Malawians dependent on Global Fund resources to stay alive and healthy.