The continued abuse of funds at Malawi’s National Aids Commission (NAC) has forced one of the country’s community development worker and HIV Councellor to write the office of the Global Fund Inspector General asking it to reconsider suspending its support to NAC arguing that the money is not benefitting the targeted individuals.
In his letter Ian Kezton Musopa who signed off as a concerned citizen observed that for the past six months “NAC has been on a Cash Dishing Spree to anyone with power or anyone close to those in authority with the mindset of getting rich quickly.”
NAC, which gets funding from the Global Fund on the Fight Against HIV and Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria has of late been locked in a number of financial abuses including giving out money to the country’s First Lady Gertrude Mutharika to support the launch of her charity Beautify Malawi Trust (BEAM).
In the letter, Musopa said several of such financial scandals have forced him to directly write the Global Fund after observing that “the Government of Malawi has been reckless in the management of resources with regard to the Global Fund.”
“It is within this feeling of continued hope to maintain the right to life for those that are infected that I write this short letter of concern to the Global Fund, requesting your office to reconsider the support that is given to Malawi as it does not benefit the targeted individuals,” he says.
The letter is dated December 1, 2014, coinciding with this year’s World Aids Day which falls on the same day and Musopa says he has also copied the letter to a number of media houses to publicize the concern and “to show the government my anger at its failure to manage these resources.”
Adds Musopa: “I believe documents about NAC-Malawi are there at your office which include the current HIV/AIDS situation in the country, the resources available, targets and aspirations which really gives an impression that great efforts are being taken and great strides are being achieved which is very contrary to what is happening on the ground.
“Efforts have been taken to talk to the government to first look at the plight of those infected and what their future holds if the resources at NAC are not well utilized but all seems to land on deaf
ears. Recently, your institution asked NAC to refund almost US$937 905.00 which I still believe is being settled in instalments and this further consolidates my assertions of the irresponsibility on the part of the Government of Malawi on utilization of financial resources.”
Musopa, who puts his address as C/O Private Bag 10084, Chichiri Blantyre 3, observed that over the past six months, the NAC Global Fund Account has been the source of income for institutions whose main line of activities does not relate to HIV/AIDS.
In his letter he cited the following as some of the ways by which the money meant for HIV/AIDS cause have been utilized;
* NAC has funded the social grouping of Mulhakho wa Alhomwe (Clan of the Lhomwe tribe) to the tune of $12,000.00 for their annual social gathering
* NAC gave the First Lady of Malawi US$ 30 000.00 for her organization called Beautify Malawi (BEAM)
* NAC gave to the Director of National intelligence Bureau an approximate amount of $89 000.00 for unknown work
* Recently about two weeks ago, NAC paid approximately $24 000.00 for a presidential function which he held at a presidential palace and the money was meant to provide for the allowances of journalist who patronized the function; and
* Early this year, a number of NGOs were shortlisted to acquire grants from the National Aids Commission to support it in the National cause. No money was dispensed but ghost NGOs have received a huge chunk of money from NAC over the past one year or so.
Musopa’s letter to the Global Fund follows an outcry and demands to have the country’s First Lady, Mulhankho wa Llhomwe and NIB refund the money which they got from NAC as many argue that the money was notgiven to organisations which have nothing to do with HIV and Aids matters.
Despite earlier denials by BEAM Vice Chair of Board Collins Magalasi that the charity did not get the money, Mrs Mutharika herself admitted to have got the K5 million from NAC although she dismissed assertions that she bulldozed her way and used her husband’s authority to push for the money.
Musopa adds in his letter: “Looking at the pace at which the money is unnecessarily being dished out to people and organizations who want it and not to people and organizations that need it, I felt it necessary that I write you sir, to help address the situation that has now gotten out of hand.
“I am aware that NAC is submitting a concept for consideration of funding in the next phase. It is my sincere hope that the Global Fund will take necessary steps before disbursing the funds. I know that my government will receive this message with a cold shoulder and nothing is likely to happen but at least I am happy that I have passed on my message to help save the lives of millions of people infected by HIV in my country.”
In his opening Musopa introduced himself as a “grieved citizen of the Republic of Malawi, a member state of the Southern Africa Development Community, an economic block that has the highest infections of HIV/AIDS in the world, increased prevalence of Tuberculosis and Malaria.”
He says he is currently living in the country’s commercial City of Blantyre, but his home district is Mangochi, a resort district along Lake Malawi, which he says statistically holds the highest number of
people infected with HIV/AIDS.
“My career background has largely been concentrated in the field of community development with much focus on issues of HIV/AIDS,” he adds.
Musopa also gives a background to the country’s HIV and Aids trends.
He says: “Towards the end of the last century in the 1990s, Malawi was heavily butchered by the AIDS pandemic in that a generation was lost and there was no hope more especially to those that had been infected by the virus. A good number of people can bear witness with me that as
a counsellor, it was very difficult to give hope to a person who tested positive of the virus.
“This made my job very difficult and my NGO found it difficult to give hope to those who were infected. Today, the coming in of the Global Fund has given a sigh of relief to people of like profession I am in because we can assure people that they can live as long as possible so
long as they access the ARVs.”
Musopa says he personally do not take for granted the great support the Global Fund is giving to Malawi.
“I must confess that I would have lost a lot more relatives without the support of the Global Fund towards provision of the ARVs in Malawi. I believe the continued provision of the therapy is likely to
sustain the lives of several other people who are infected by the virus,” he adds.
Meanwhile, civil society organisations (CSOs) in the country have given First Lady Gertrude Mutharika seven days to return the money her organisation Beautify Malawi (Beam) Trust took from National Aids Commission (NAC) or they will hold national demonstrations.
One of the CSO leaders, Martha Kwataine, said the President’s spouse knew exactly what she was doing when she asked for the funds.
Ministry of Health chief medical services director Charles Mwansambo has told the Parliamentary Committee on Health that NAC is undergoing an audit following reports that it disbursed money to organisations which did not have core HIV programmes, but had links to the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :