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.
Briefing journalists in Lilongwe yesterday, one of the CSO leaders, Martha Kwataine, said the President’s spouse knew exactly what she was doing when she asked for the funds.
Madame Mutharika has since said she sent letters to many organisations and not just NAC.
Said Kwataine: “If she [Mutharika] thinks the lives of Malawians can be put on hold simply because she wants to promote her trust, then she should think again. We have given her seven days from today, inclusive of Sundays, and if she fails, she will have swallowed a bitter pill. If there is money that should never be tampered with, it is NAC money because Malawi does not contribute a single tambala to NAC.”
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) executive director Timothy Mtambo said there are procedures which are followed for one to get funding.
“Madam First Lady should know that NAC has its window where it calls for proposals from institutions and organisations in the HIV and Aids response and not to solicit funds for unrelated activities in the manner that was applied in this case,” he said.
Two weeks ago, Madame Mutharika personally wrote a letter to NAC alongside, National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) and Mulhako wa Alomwe asking for funds that had nothing to do with Aids activities.
Mutharika asked for K5 million for her Beam Trust, NIB asked for K43 million while Mulhako wa Alomwe was given K9 million. These donations come against the background of NAC announcing that it would scale down its funding mechanisms in HIV and Aids due to funding.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Health chief medical services director Charles Mwansambo 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).
The development has angered CSOs and the Parliamentary Committee on Health.