By Nenenji Mlangeni
LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Some of the country Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) under the banner National Civil Society Consultative Forum on Global Fund (NCSCFGF) on Friday took to task Action Aid International for misappropriation of grants coupled with fraud.
The grouping is also accusing Action Aid for favouring fellow International Organisations when granting funds on HIV/AIDS programs implementations in the country.
The forum has cited several international organizations that have been given grants leaving locals grappling with resources.
The grouping told the news conference in the capital Lilongwe that there is a need for Action Aid to cease being the main recipient of Global Fund to Malawi.
The CSOs say they have evidence to prove Action Aid’s fraud details on Global funds.
The forum is however demanding the return of National Aids Commission (NAC) to be the sole recipient of the grant on behalf of Malawians.
There was no immediate reaction from Action Aid Malawi Country Director Grace Malera on the matter as she could not be reached for several attempt on her mobile number.
Below is the fully statement of National Civil Society Consultative Forum on Global Fund (NCSCFGF) issued and signed by its Chairperson Lucky Mbewe;
CALL TO REVIEW THE OPERATIONS OF THE COUNTRY MANAGEMENT OF THE GLOBAL FUNDS IN MALAWI
We the Civil Society Organizations in Malawi, wish to call upon the Malawi Global Fund Country Coordinating Mechanism, the Government of Malawi and the Global Fund to review the operations and management of the global funds in Malawi. There are high anomalies, mismanagement, and cases of fraud in how the global funds have been managed by Action Aid Malawi since they became the country’s recipient of the funds.
In 2015, the Global Fund made a decision to kick out National AIDS Commission (NAC) as a Country’s recipient of global funds for Malawi. They cited anomalies and issues of fraud on the part of management of the funds by NAC. Upon kicking out NAC, the decision was made to take the country’s recipient to non-state actors in a bid to ensure there is efficiency and effectiveness of the fund. Action Aid Malawi was picked as a Country’s recipient for the funds.
As Civil Society Organizations in Malawi, we have noted that since HIV and AIDS funds management went to Action Aid, there are alleged gloss mismanagement, cases of fraud, and lack of capacity within Action Aid to manage the Global Fund. It’s sad that since Action Aid became a recipient, every year Malawi has been returning money to Global Fund due to lack of absorption capacity yet at the same time they are failing to fund the NGOs.
Without fear of contradiction, the reasons why NAC was removed as a recipient of global Fund as compared to what is happening with Action Aid, shows that there is a greater bias towards international institutions. Issues within NAC were manageable yet the issues happening within Action Aid are much worse.
Our conviction and justification is that the Global Fund support comes to a country in order to benefit the locals hence the need to probe and question issues when they are wrong.
Issues of Fraud and Mismanagement.
There are evidence that in the process of the fund, there has been huge elements of fraud and mismanagement of the global funds.
There are instances that instead of transferring money into sub grantees accounts, Action Aid and other Sub Grantees were drawing cash and giving to implementers which raises a big questions of accountability.
In 2016 while implementing an Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) in Lilongwe, Action Aid instead of being a coordinator decided to become an Implementer.
Further instead of working with local Organizations decided to partner with a fellow International Organization. What is saddening is the fact that a 2 year project was only implemented in three months due to the alleged fraud and corruption.
We question how can K8billion be spent within 3 months and no impact shown on the ground?There are also evidence that the staff within Action Aid managing the Global Fund has been demanding kickbacks from sub grantees and that they are only funding groups that they can go and get their shares. This needs to be probed as well.
The Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) has let down Malawi
We are saddened with the role that CCM has played in the whole management of the Global Funds in Malawi. It seems that the CCM is part and parcel of this mess and mismanagement of the funds at Action Aid. We say this because every time when organizations query the implementation of Global Fund, the CCM is quick to ask for a meeting between the stated Organization and Action Aid. For Instance, CCM tried to coerce CYECE and CASCOD to talk with the Executive Director for Action Aid and see a compromise on how they will be supported instead of correcting the situation.
Development Partners have let down the people of Malawi
We have noted for time and again that there is indifference on how development partners and the western government in this case the British Government treats and respond to case of fraud when it comes to institutions that are from the same countries.
We have noted that just because Action Aid is a UK charity, the British Government does not take a hard stance on the issues of fraud and mismanagement. What has been happening at Action Aid if it was a local NGO, it would have been blacklisted and the Global Fund would have taken a hard stance on it. But we noted the level of complacency on the part of donors and development partners in dealing with international NGOs with kid gloves.
Reconstitute the Malawi Global Fund Country Coordinating Mechanism
2. The Global fund must review its position of the local recipient and revert back to NAC
3. Probing of all the officers within Action Aid involved in the grant management for their role of the Global Fund mismanagement towards the recovery of the resources
4. Global Fund and Action Aid must institute a forensic audit on how the funds have been utilized as we suspect that there have been gross mismanagement and fraud.
5. ACB must probe Action Aid in the issue of management of the global funds and its benefiaries.
6. The NGO Board and CONGOMA must review the role of International Organizations in implementation of projects as they are usurping the space of local NGOs. INGOs must not be implementers but rather partner with the local organizations
7. The British Government must probe the role of Action Aid as a UK based Charity on how its contributing to the local mismanagement of the funds in Malawi and other underdeveloped countries.
8. All District CSO/CBOs network must not allow any International NGO to implement any actions related to Global Fund as by law are not required not to do so
Lucky Crown Mbewe
1. Center for Youth Empowerment and Civic Education
2. Eye of the Child
3. Counselling of the Adolescent and Youth Organization
4. Youth Appause
5. Centre for Conflict Management and Women Development Affairs
6. Ufulu Wanga
7. Mzuzu Youth Association
8. Ntchisi Organization for Youth and Development
9. Malawi Congress of Trade Unions
10. Centre for Youth and Children Affairs
13. Project Child Malawi
15. Action Hope Malawi
16. Network for Capacity Building in Education