National AIDS Commission (NAC) a government agency has for the past six months deployed one of its staff member; Mrs. Leonisa Nsiku Mukaka to work in the civil society as acting executive director of Malawi Network of AIDS Services Organizations (MANASO).
Leonisa Nsiku Mukaka was from July 2014 up to 26th January, 2015 working as MANASO Acting Executive Director; following a suspension of its Executive Director, Lawrence Khonyongwa by its Board. Apparently, NAC Board Chairperson, Ms. Mara Kumbweza Banda also doubles as Chairperson of MANASO.
NAC Acting Executive Director, Davie Kalomba confirmed the news in a questionnaire response saying it was possible for the commission to deploy its staff because NAC is the institution mandated by Government to lead and coordinate the national response to HIV and AIDS in Malawi and that MANASO is one of the coordinating agencies that work with NAC to deliver this mandate.
“Executive Management liaised with the Board Chairperson to arrive at the decision. This was based on the request that came from MANASO for this support. This was also in line with the Commission’s mandate on provision of capacity building to its implementing partners,” says Kalomba.
He says NAC was still responsible for the officer’s salary as she was still a NAC employee, merely seconded to MANASO to manage the crisis that had arisen.
“You might wish to note that as much as she was the acting Executive Director at MANASO, there was no additional monetary benefit since this was just part of NAC’s capacity support to MANASO during this crisis period”, says Kalomba.
However, a news source who opted for anonymity within MANASO says while the Non-governmental-organization (NGO) law in Malawi does not allow government to intervene in NGO’s work; it was conflict of interest for NAC; the then Principal Recipient of the Global Fund to deploy its Grant Officer cadre in order to administer the Global Fund grants within MANASO.
The source says the act of appointing a person from government to work in the civil society organization is contrary to the constitution of MANASO and rules and regulations governing the organization.
“MANASO rules and regulations do not allow for hand picking of staff into positions. There are clear procedures for recruitment of staff regardless of the situation,” say the source adding, as such Global Fund instructed Malawi’s Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) to discuss this matter but it was suppressed during the recent meeting.
The decision to deploy Mukaka was done at a critical period when MANASO was leading the civil society participation in the New Funding Model. This reached a very critical stage when a NAC official on secondment to MANASO was put in the concept note writing team to represent civil society.
A source says the leadership of a NAC employee at MANASO had severely affected the organizational role to engage civil society effective application; for instance since NAC was an interested party, it was difficult for the deployed person to organise civil society for any concerted effort to the process or even to challenge NAC on its commitment to the Global Fund.
According to a letter dated 19th September, 2014; addressed to Global Fund, Senior Fund Portfolio Manager, Mr. Plaikessi Kouadjani which was written by Global Fund Advocates Network (GFAN) Country Coordinator, Lawrence Khonyongwa says what NAC did was a gross violation of its own grant agreement with MANASO and we believe this is an audit query.
“How can NAC answer audit issues on the grant to MANASO if it has placed its own officer from the grants section to head operations of its Grant Recipient Organisation? This is certainly conflict of interest of the highest order and need to be condemned in the strongest terms,” reads Khonyongwa’s letter in part.
Ironically, Khonyongwa is the suspended Executive Director of MANASO. He resigned because of the differences which he had with his Board of Trustees. Later the board suspended him from employment because they suspected him to leaked documents that exposed employee rights violations and nepotism, which he denies. After the incident, Mukaka was later deployed to MANASO.
MANASO is an independent organization and leads the civil society response to HIV and currently it is Vice Chair of Malawi Partnership Forum. It was registered under the laws of Malawi as NGO while NAC is a pure government agency.
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