National Aids Commission (NAC) says it will never assist Nkhotakota District with finances to implement its programs unless the council repays them MK5 million which one of the officials swindled four years ago.
In 2012, the then District Aids Coordinator Cedrick Kwizombe was arrested for swindling funds meant to implement HIV and Aids activities and the issue is still being handled by Salima Magistrate Court.
The letter NAC wrote the district council indicated July 1, 2016 as dateline for the council to respond to their demand if at all they are to directly receive finances.
This means Nkhotakota will never directly receive funds from the commission to implement its activities as it is done with some districts.
While some stakeholders thought the decision was unfair bearing in mind that the council is already struggling to implement some activities due to lack of funds, others suggested it was good the council sources some funds to pay NAC so that the communities benefit.
Speaking to Malawi News Agency (Mana) Nkhotakota District Commissioner Felix Mkandawire said he was surprised with NAC’s step towards an issue which is currently in court.
He boldly and repeatedly said the council cannot be dictated by NAC but rather the laws.
“NAC is also an arm of government and it knows how we work and what the law says on a matter in court. Let us follow justice. Let the court conclude the case,” said the DC.
Mkandawire emphasized the case was a personal issue where a civil servant misused public funds hence there is no need for the council to intervene by refunding the money.
“This issue concerns an individual who allegedly stole the money and got arrested. It is not the council’s problem that it needs to refund the money.
“Does it mean that the council can ever be responsible to pay money which an individual like me being accused of misappropriating funds? And what if the court acquits the accused? Where shall we get the money from?” wondered Mkandawire.
Justifying the issue during District Aids Coordinating Committee (DACC) meeting, District Aids coordinator for the North Jonathan Vumu said that the case was not new to NAC and all the concerned parties abide by that plea. He added at the end the councils benefit from NAC funds as the matters await conclusion by the courts.
“Similar cases happened in Chikwawa and Zomba where the district and city councils refunded the money and NAC continued funding the funds to the district,” he said while highlighting that the commission also answers to donors who give money on conditions that funds are used accordingly.
Senior Assistant Court Administrator in Nkhotakota Maluwa Banda said there would be no harm responding positively to NAC order which will be reversed if it is wrong during the court conclusion.
“If the court acquits the accused, NAC will have to refund the council the money which it repaid. Otherwise it would be good to pay the money so that the coming finances assist in running the HIV and AIDS related programs in the district,” said Banda.
Source: Malawi News Agency