Friday, November 19, 2010

Prosecute Global Fund looters, NGOCC urges

Prosecute Global Fund looters, NGOCC urges
By Joseph Mwenda
Fri 19 Nov. 2010, 03:59 CAT

THE NGOCC says it will be illogical for the government to repay the Global Fund US$13 million without prosecuting those responsible for misappropriating it.

Commenting on Sweden’s withdrawal of its US$85 million annual pledge to the Global Fund following concerns of financial misappropriation in Zambia, Cameroun, Mauritania and Mali, NGOCC executive director Engwase Mwale yesterday said Zambia had many needy sectors which needed attention.

“Given the situation of our country, we need every resource to be directed to the needy areas and we know that in terms of development, we need every funding that comes into the country to be applied accordingly,” Mwale said in an interview.

“Therefore, it will be very unfair for the country to be made to pay back when culprits are available; they are currently moving around in this country. It is very important for government to ensure that these culprits are made to pay back.”

She advised the government to quickly investigate the abuse of funds in question and ensure that culprits pay back.

“These people who misappropriated money meant for the innocent majority must be prosecuted and most importantly, they must be held to account for them to make sure that this money is available as soon as possible for them to pay back,” she said.

Mwale said the government and concerned parties should find a lasting solution to the continued embezzlement of donor aid in the country.

“Fund misappropriation has continued hitting us as a country. It is even more worrying that this time, it was funds meant for HIV and AIDS whose repercussion is heavily inclined towards many women and children that have benefited from this support,” Mwale said.

She warned that many people would lose their lives following the decision by the Global Fund donors to withdraw funding.

“We have had reports of HIV/AIDS drugs as well as TB drug shortages in most of our health centres. A lot of people are suffering, a lot of citizens who are trying to prolong their lives will actually lose their lives because of the lack of these important life-saving drugs,” Mwale said.

Mwale said the misappropriation of funds would also affect the country’s efforts to reduce infant mortality rates, which still remained high.

And chief government spokesperson Ronnie Shikapwasha said he would only comment on the matter once Sweden officially communicated to the government.

“I have seen the article in The Post but we have not received the communication from Sweden. When Sweden communicates to us then we can comment,” said Lieutenant General Shikapwasha.

According to the Global Funds’ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report, of the total misapplied US$25 million, Zambia had the highest amount with almost $12 million in ineligible expenditures identified and $1 million in non-delivered goods.

In Cameroon about US$$3 million was reported to have been abused, US$4 million in Mali while US$6.7 million was identified in Mauritania as unaccounted for.

Stefan Emblad, the director of resource mobilisation at the Global Fund, stated that all the four countries that misused funds must repay.

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