Malawi’s First Lady Gertrude Mutharika, who is currently embroiled in a scandal involving K5 million which she collected from the country’s National Aids Commission (NAC) for her charity Beautify Malawi trust (BEAM) ,is said to have also bulldozed government ministries to cough K300,000 each to support the launch of her organisation.
Nyasa Times investigations revealed that apart from NAC, BEAM collected almost K6 million from different ministries through the letters which were sent to all the ministers including their deputies.
“During the launch, every ministry was asked to pay K300,000 and they all paid, actually some ministries which have offices for deputy ministers paid a total of K600,000,” disclosed one source who is an accountant at one of the ministries.
He added: “I can say we were ordered at gunpoint to release the money to support the launch because after writing us letters, there was several follow ups that made it difficult for us to turn down the demand.”
Mrs Mutharika recently admitted that her charity got K5 million from NAC although she was quick to deny that she bulldozed her 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 cleanliness, sanitation and environmental health in the country.
In an interview, Mutharika insisted that there was nothing sinister in how the funds were obtained.
Mrs Mutharika’s admission came after Weekend Nation reported two weeks ago that BEAM and Mulhakho wa Alhomwe, a tribal grouping that President Arthur Peter Mutharika belongs to as well as the country’s NationalIntelligence Bureau (NIB) drew a total of K57.4 million from NAC.
“It was a standard letter which went out to a number of organizations 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 when defending her widely criticised action.
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.
Some civil society organisations have since piled 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 do with the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Reports have indicated that Mulhakho wa Alhomwe drew K9.4 million, NIB K43 million while BEAM drew the K5 million.
Meanwhile , the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids (UNAids) has also warned against the misuse of HIV and Aids resources a position that would put Malawi at a risk of losing its Global Fund resources.
During the World Aids Day commemoration on Monday, UNAids expressed worry over government’s use of HIV and Aids resources and has since urged the government to urgently address the problem or face the appropriate action.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :