Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have demanded an immediate refund of money amounting to about K15 million (about $30 000).First Lady Gertrude Mutharika’s Beautify Malawi (Beam) Trust and tribal grouping Mulhako wa Alhomwe collected from National Aids Commission (NAC) to fund activities that have nothing to do with the fight against the HIV/Aids pandemic .
National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) also asked for funding from NAC in September 2014 to the tune of K43 million.
NIB director Nicholas Dausi asked for the money to be used in preventing new infections by providing accurate HIV and Aids information to members of staff and their spouses
But the CSOs in a news conference held in Lilongwe on Wednesday described the development as abuse of power considering that the beneficiary institutions do not have any HIV program to advance in the country.
The organisations included Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, Malawi Health Equity Network, Malawi Network of People Living with HIV and Aids, Manelera, Centre for the Development of People, among many organizations that made the demand at a media briefing in Lilongwe.
“Malawi has suffered too much to tolerate another dimension of cash-gate with the name tag called NAC-gate,” said Executive Director of Malawi Health Equity Network Martha Kwataine .
The CSOs call upon the Country Coordinating Mechanism Committee of the Global fund (CCM) to swiftly investigate the ‘NAC-gate’ and “ bring culprits who are responsible for the authorization of such payments to Mulhako, Beam and NIB to book.”
The CSOs are also calling for sanity at NAC through immediate dissolution of NAC Board and be replaced with an appointment of “an objective, sober, functional Board that will be free from political interference. “
The activists noted that the current leadership wrangle at NAC – where former boss Dr Thomas Bisika was fired in favour of current acting Executive Director Davie Kalomba -could as well be construed as politicians’ attempt to create a weak leadership they easily manipulate.
CHHR boss Timothy Mtambo said it is the CSOs view that government and its agents used their power to influence the National AIDS Commission to release the money while holding its dagger.
“This violates accountability and transparency under which AIDS resources should be disbursed. It further suffocates the confidence key stakeholders should have in the management of the national AIDS response funds. We even wonder if the Board had played any role in the release of these funds,” said Mtambo.
“The CSOs, would like to remind government and its agents that health and specifically AIDS funding in Malawi is mainly donor supported by more than 90%. The money is entrusted to government on behalf of all Malawians to reverse the AIDS epidemic. It is given on trust to Malawians for appropriate use as often stipulated in funding conditions. We therefore find it irresponsible for an elected government to abuse its power which would lead to Malawians themselves failing to cope with their already staggering health conditions,” he said.
Gift Trapence Executive Director of Cedep said that with current inadequate funding in the budget, the abused money should have been placed where it matters most than on clandestine programs adding that the procedure was not followed.
“The three institutions do not have mandate to engage into HIV Aids responses in the country, it means its a total abuse of funds, we call this cashgate and Nac-gate, Mulhako, Beam and NIB, those involved must face long arm of the law.
Safari Mbewe Manet Plus Executive Director said that already Global Fund where Nac obtain its funding from recently demanded a refund of abused money and it was unfortunate that government is repeating same anormally.
Mbewe said that people in the villages are suffering due to inadequate treatment and care hence bashed government for lacking political will in fighting HIV and Aids.
NAC acting executive director Dave Kalomba confirmed to the paper that Mutharika’s and Mulhako wa Alhomwe were funded
Deputy Chairperson of the Trust, Collins Magalasi claimed: “NAC invited us to come up with the proposal.”
Ironic enough, it is the same NAC which, a few months ago, was asked by Global Fund to refund the unaccounted-for money worth millions of kwacha.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :