As debates continues on how First Lady Gertrude Mutharika’s Beautify Malawi (BEAM) trust , a cultural grouping Mulhakho wa Alhomwe and National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) got funding from National Aids Commission (NAC) amounting to MK57 million, Civil Society Organization (CSOs) have given Beam trust seven days to refund the money amounting to MK5 million the trust got from NAC or else they will go on the street to protest.

The NGOs which includes Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation, Malawi Health Equity Network, Malawi Network of People Living with HIV and Aids, Manelera, Centre for the Development issued the joint statement on Wednesday at a Press briefing held in Lilongwe.

The seven-day ultimatum also extend to Mulhakho wa Alhome whose patron is President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika and National Intelligence Bureau (NIB)

The said NGOs have accused the first Lady of playing a blame game in her recent response to accusations that her trust used state machinery in accessing funds from NAC.

“The excuse given by Madam Mutharika on Nacgate does not hold water at all. We as CSOs cannot stand and watch a repeat of the plundering of public funds. Abusing NAC funds is unacceptable. They should refund the money or else we will demonstrate”, said CEDEP boss Gift Trapence.

On her part, Executive Director of Malawi Health Equity Network Martha Kwataine said this is an acceptable and urged Malawians to join hands on the issue.

CSOs also threatens to write all donors and Global Fund to inform them on the abuse of the Aids money.
Reacting on the issue earlier this week, Madam Mutharika said she did not force any organization to dish out money to support the launch of her trust.

“It was a standard letter which went out to a number of organisations and institutions including Nac, to help with the launch of Beam. We did not force anyone to give out any money. The organisations gave out the money out of their free will.

“In the specific case of NAC, the organisation decided upon receiving the standard letter that they were going to participate in the launch through the purchase of a K3 milliondinner table for their staff and stakeholders as well as through the buying of space in the dinner venue to the tune of K2 million for advertisement of HIV/AIDS messages through roll-up banners”, said Mutharika.

Meanwhile it is yet to be seen how the issue will end as debate continues on the matter.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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