Malawi’s First Lady Gertrude Mutharika has admitted that her Beautify Malawi Trust (Beam) got K5 million from the country National Aids Commission (Nac) but she was quick to deny that her charity bulldozed its way to get the money.
NAC is a government institution that is mandated to fight HIV and Aids and is funded by the Global Fund on the Fight Against HIV and Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria while Beam was set up to champion cleanlisness and sanitation in the country.
In an interview, Mutharika insisted that there was nothing sinister in how the funds were obtained.
Mrs Mutharika comments come after reports allege that Beam and Mulhakho wa Alhomwe, a tribal grouping that President Arthur Peter Mutharika belongs and is its patron as well as the country’s National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) drew a total of K57.4 million from Nac.
“It was a standard letter which went out to a number of organisations and institutions including Nac, to help with the launch of Beam. We did not force anyone to give out any money. The organisations gave out the money out of their free will,” said Mrs Mutharika.
According to the First Lady she did not use state machinery as others are alleging explaining that not every organisation that was approached to assist managed to do so.
Her explanation comes after some civil society organisation has put pressure on Beam and the two institutions to give back the money which they are saying was given to wrong institutions that have nothing to with the fight against HIV and Aids.
In a joint statement released last week, Malawi network of People Living with HIV and Aids, Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen), Centre for Development of people (Cedep) and Centre for Human Rights Rehabilitation described the development as a pure sign of misappropriation of funds.
Reports have indicated that Mulhakho wa Alhomwe drew K9.4 million, National Intelligence Bureau drew K43 million while Beam drew the K5 million.
And State House drew K12 million from NAC to fund cash handouts for journalists who were invited to what was supposed to be an interface with the President but later turned out to be a dinner- dance and cash handout event.