NyasaLeaks: 'Donors' query Malawian activists on gay funds

Civil rights activists who have been fighting for gay rights in Malawi are under pressure from their donors to explain how they used the funds that were given to them to fight for gay rights legislation.

In an emailed correspondence dated 19th July 2011  posted on newly launched whistle blower website  NyasaLeaks, addressed to John Kapito chairperson of Malawi Human Rights Commission, Baneet Bulky of the British Concern explains that his office had been entrusted with the task to carry out investigation and come out with a concrete report before 30th July 2011.

The resolution to investigate the activists was reached at a Southern Africa Human Rights meeting held in South Africa in July this year.

According to the email, during the meeting one of the agendas was gay rights proposal the activists submitted to Norwegian Human Rights for Africa on 25th December, 2010. The delegates to the meeting noted that the same joint proposal was submitted to another donor organisation in Britain without the knowledge of other activists.

Leaked email

Noted Bulky: “This has also [been] noted that the joint proposal was also submitted to the Hope for Africa donor organization in Britain. However with our investigation it has been noted that the proposal was sent from your office in joint effort with Chairperson for Human Rights Consultative Committee Mr Undule Mwakasungula.”

The email notes that the activists received funding from both organisations in Norway and Britain.

However, it notes that the records show that other funds were not accounted for.

“Both proposals carries the same information and activities but surprisingly all have been funded yet our office has only one amounted to $45,000.00. The other subsequent of money from the Hope for Africa is nowhere to be traced,” writes Bulky.

Nyasa Times could not verify the existence of Baneet Bulky and the British Concern.

But the missing funds were  said to have been shared by the activists and funded the engagement of Aunt Tiwo and Monjeza, Malawi’s first gay couple to come out in the public.

The two were used to test the waters and see the public response as well as to find a starting point for their campaign for gay rights legislation.

Gay rights has been one of the contentious issues in Malawi since the engagement of Malawi’s first gay couple to come out in the open and declare their sexual orientation.

Tiwonge Chimbalanga, popularly known as Aunt Tiwo engaged with Steve Monjeza on Boxing Day, 26th December, 2009 before breaking up after running legal battles.

Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa Usiwa sentenced the two to 14 years imprisonment with hard labour in 2010. However, the two were pardoned by President Bingu wa Mutharika the same year.

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