The National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives of Malawi (Nonm) is facing an audit query over K58 million in donor funds.
The audit query has since forced Nonm’s major activity financier, the Norwegian Nurses Organisation (NNO), to withhold funding.
NNO special adviser (development aid) Charlotte Sigurdson Christiansen confirmed in an e-mailed response to a questionnaire that funding to Nonm has been frozen until the audit is concluded and issues clarified.
But Nonm president Dorothy Ngoma, while confirming about the withholding of funding by the donor, insisted that all is not lost and that the audit findings are not conclusive.
She said that Norad, the Norwegian government’s development agency, is yet to officially communicate the audit findings and the way forward.
Said Ngoma: “The donor has not given us the report yet. The normal process is that they have to give it to us to check if we agree with the details and whatever our response that is when the final report will be written.”
She said currently, the donor is only providing administrative costs from January this year, adding that it is only funds for planned annual activities that have not been given.
The forensic investigation done by audit and business advisory firm KPMG reviewed transactions between January 1 2016 and October 31 2017.
The audit report Weekend Nation has seen shows several malpractices, including disputed goods and services, disputed workshop allowances, staff allowances issued contrary to NNO agreements and expenditure without supporting documents.
The draft audit report also shows that 21 out of 46 businesses purported to have provided training-related goods and services to Nonm at a cost of K9 855 368 ($13 839) denied having provided such services while some of the businesses were found to be non-existent.
Reads the report in part: “Based on the calls we made to the 890 participants, a total of K905 500 [$1 271] relating to 187 participants was disputed and the information we received indicated that this amount had not been issued as allowances as alleged.”
The report adds that K28 275 900 ($39 709) in allowances issued for Nonm events lacked evidence of the individuals listed as beneficiaries.
During the review period, Nonm also transferred K32 552 160 ($4 989) from the organisation membership and Nonm building accounts into the NNO account to settle NNO project costs during periods when the NNO account did not have adequate funds.
Reads the audit review: “Salary payments for two staff members [names withheld], who are paid from the NNO project are made in cash. [The accountant] stated that the staff members had requested to receive their salaries in cash because they did not want bank charges to affect their take-home pay. This was contrary to requirements of their operations manual which stipulates that salaries should be paid by direct transfer to employee accounts.”
According to the report, based on the shortfalls identified, a loss of K57 263 260 ($80 414) was computed.
Some staff at the orginisation, who declined to be named, told Weekend Nation that the situation is so dire that the nurses’ welfare grouping is functioning with a skeletal secretariat as contracts of most staff have been terminated while others resigned in the face of aid freeze.
They also revealed that the donor has withdrawn membership subscriptions for nurses who want to be members of the organisation.
The development has seen membership drastically reduced from 11 000 around 2010 to about 2 000 as of last year.
Health rights activist Maziko Matemba described the current scenario at Nonm as worrying, saying being a union; its membership had high expectations.
He said: “Nonm has a very important role to play in ensuring that welfare of the professionals is well taken care of.”
Matemba said an unhappy and abandoned nurse cannot do her job as expected with low morale.