Government says it has spoken to the Global Fund and obtained an assurance that its relationship with Malawi remains warm despite controversy over National Aids Commission (NAC) finances.
President Peter Mutharika’s chief economic adviser Dr Collins Magalasi said in an interview at the weekend that he spoke directly to the Global Fund’s executive director, Dr Mark Dybul.
Magalasi explained that he contacted Dybul out of concern that the NAC controversy, if not managed well, had implications of affecting the economy of Malawi if the support from the fund were to be discontinued.
“You must appreciate that the Global Fund supports us with between $600 million [K300 billion] and $700 million [K350 billion]. This is an enormous contribution to the economy. Therefore, government had to move in quickly to make sure that its larger strategic and economic interests are safeguarded,” said Magalasi.
Money from NAC is currently a centre of controversy after the organisation spent K5 million during the launch of First Lady Gertrude Mutharika’s Beautify Malawi (Beam) Trust.
Some civil society organisations (CSOs) are demanding a refund of the money.
However, NAC board chairperson Mara Kum’bweza Banda said last week that her organisation’s donors do not expect the money to be refunded because, she said, the expense and the process followed in making it were not anomalous.
“It is correct that our donors wanted to know what was going on. We explained to them what happened. They are satisfied with our explanation,” said Kum’bweza Banda.
However, one of the organisers of the demonstrations planned to compel Beam to refund the money, Gift Trapence—executive director of Centre for the Development of the People (Cedep)—insisted in a separate interview that the protest march will proceed because they have not seen evidence confirming that NAC really spoke to the Global Fund.
“We need evidence whether they have indeed spoken to the Global Fund. But even if it should be true, it is the people of Malawi that are expecting a refund, not Global Fund,” said Trapence.