Malawi human rights campaigners have said they will still protests to secure a refund of K5 million (about $10 000) that the National Aids Commission (NAC) spent during the launch of the Beautify Malawi (Beam) Trust launch and have also voiced out the shortage of essential drugs and collapse of heath service delivery system.
A leaked documents had shown that organisers of demonstrations are on the list of receipients of the 54 grants worth K4.9 billion (about $9.8m) which NAC approved at a meeting held on Friday, January 1 2014 .
NAC board chairperson, Mara Kum’bweza Banda, confirmed the documents as authentic, saying Cedep, Manet+, JBFI and State Residences are among the organisations whose applications for grants were approved, authenticating the figures as K44 863 192. 64; K113 873 064.50; K73 593 400.00 and K49 790 605.76 respectively.
This prompted trustee of Beam, Mavuto Bamusi to attack organisers of the demonstrations as hypocrites.
Kumbweza Banda said NAC approves grants from an applicant if they are legally registered organisations, have functional governance structures, have capacity in all key grant management and programme implementation functions.
Cedep boss Gift Trapence said the organisation received the funding because they have “a component relating to HIV and Aids” and that they followed the procedure and probed whether Beam and was eligible under those criteria.
He said the dilemma that Malawi finds itself in is that the impression created by NAC might jeopardize Malawi’s application for sustaining funding from the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS.
“ This situation further puts to question the commitment of the current leadership [government and NAC] in promoting fiscal discipline in use of these resources. Loss of funding to interventions on HIV/Aids would put at high risk the lives of patients who are dependent on such funds for their treatment,” reads the statement.
According to NAC chairperson, the national response to HIV and Aids is multi-sectoral since the epidemic has not spared any sector as such, organisations from the public, private, faith, civil society, research and academia sectors are eligible to apply as long as they satisfy the stipulated criteria and funds are available.
Kum’bweza Banda said the Global Fund (GF) and other donors that finance NAC do not expect a refund of K5 million from Mutharika’s Beam because they are “satisfied” with their explaination.
But CSOs argue that whilst the country is still facing shortages of ARVs, it is surprising to note that resources for such a purpose have been misdirected to entities that do not directly deal with HIV/ AIDS interventions such as BEAM Trust and Mulhako wa Alomwe calling it “tantamount to abuse of resources. “
The groups stated: “Malawians are disappointed that the process of granting funds to the stated recipients was not fair thorough, and in the best interest of Malawians. In fact, Malawians are aware that many NGOs/CBOs/FBO earmarked for funding were not granted funds on grounds that funds were not available which gives the impression that, the granting of resources to the stated recipients was political manipulation.”
According to the CSO’s, Malawians are also concerned with acute shortage of essential drugs, and the continued collapse of the health service delivery system.
“Malawians also deplore the unbearable working conditions of health personnel where in some instances they are compelled to work at the expense of their own lives and this has demotivated the workers in the sector.”
The CSOs said since BEAM, Mulhakho Wa Alhomwe are unwilling to account, refund and resolve the NAC issue, the planned nationwide demonstration will proceed on 13th January.
Speaking during the news conference, CSOs coordinating spokesperson Timothy Mtambo indicated that they were following all the procedures required to hold the demo.
“We can assure the nation that following the failure of the institutions in question to meet our demands over NACGATE, the demonstrations are still on 13th January 2015. As earlier communicated, apart from NACGATE concerns and demands, these demonstrations shall also provide the platform for the citizens to express other the prevailing governance, economic, and human rights concerns including some of those aired out during the press briefing.
“It’s all about the best interest of the nation. Government-orchestrated propaganda levelled against human rights defenders will take the country nowhere, and must stop,”said the outspoken Mtambo.
CSOs and activists party to the statement are Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN), Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Centre for Development of People (Cedep), Nurses Organisation of Malawi, Malawi Network of Religious Leaders Living with HIV and AIDS (MANERELA), Civic and Political Space (CPS), Church and Society Programme-Livingstonia Synod(CSP-LS), Human Rights Defenders Forum (HRDF), Malawi Human Rights Resource Centre (MHRRC), Malawi Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS, Citizen for Justice (CFJ), Benedicto Kondowe (In his capacity as a Human Rights defender), Hebrews Misomali (Human Rights defender), National Elections Trust,.
Others are ANPPCAN Malawi Chapter, Family Planning Association of Malawi, Local NGO Forum on HIV/AIDS, Foundation for Community Support Services, Youth and Society, Child Development and Support Organisation, Centre for Youth Development, and Outreach Scout Foundation are the.
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