Court orders Maureen, accomplices to refund ZNAN K1.2 million

FORMER first lady Maureen Mwanawasa and five others have been ordered by the Lusaka High Court to refund over K1.2 million to Zambia National Aids Network (ZNAN), which money was mismanaged instead of being used to combat HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

The money, mainly from the Global Fund, was granted to the Maureen Mwanawasa Community Initiative (MMCI), for the purpose of up scaling activities  in combating and treating  HIV/AIDS among other programmes.

However,  a forensic audit conducted by ZNAN  discovered glaring irregularities in that  the funds were mismanaged or misappropriated on unsupported expenditure.

A report was issued by the Global Fund office of the investigator general in October 2010 which recommended the recovery of the money and the office of the Inspector General of Police was also engaged to investigate but the Initiative failed to furnish the investigation team of the Zambia Police supporting documents for the purported expenditures of the money received from ZNAN.

Attempts to recover the money had failed.

In his judgment Deputy High Court Registrar Charles Zulu has now ordered that the money should be paid back.

The Lusaka High Court held that MMCI mismanaged the Global Funds meant to combat HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis and scaling up of ART in Zambia.

Other defendants are Noreen Mapala, Wright Mumeka, Sam Mundia, Simon Sakala and Rosario Fundanga who were sued in their capacities as trustees of Maureen Mwanawasa Community Initiative (MMCI).

In his default judgment following the failure by Dr. Mwanawasa and her colleagues to defend themselves against the allegation of irregular mismanagement of the funds, Deputy High Court registrar Charles Zulu  ordered that the money should be paid back.

This was in the matter in which ZNAN trustees George Zimba, Beatrice Chola and Evans Banda sued Dr Mwanawasa and the six others over the money which was received from ZNAN, a principal recipient of Global Fund grants.

Judge Zulu ruled that Dr Mwanawasa and others should pay interest for the money and costs incidental to the proceedings.

“The defendants having failed defence, it is hereby judged and ordered that the final judgment be and is hereby entered in favour of the plaintiffs,” he said.

According to a statement of claim the trio filed in the court, MMCI application was approved for funding and received in excess of k1, 263, 628.90 over a period of time.

They said MMCI proceeded to disburse the funds without complying with its obligations to account by supporting payments with the requisite supporting documents.

The trio said MMCI failed to keep proper books of accounts for its expenditures which were also spent on non-qualifying programmes.

They said MMCI also commingled funds from ZNAN with funds received from other donors such as  the Joint Financing Arrangement thereby affecting the possibility of an effective tracking of funds and expectation.

The trio said in 2010, the Global Fund office of the investigators audited MMCI in relation to the funds it received from ZNAN and it discovered glaring irregularities on MMCI in that it mismanaged or misappropriated K1, 247, 713.90 on unsupported expenditures.

Every recipient of ZNAN funds was further required to file a statement of income and expenditure supported by copies of source documents in addition to keeping proper books of accounts.

They said a report was issued by the Global Fund office of the Investigator General in October 2010, which recommended recovery of the money.

“The office of the Inspector General of Police was also engaged to investigate the matter, but MMCI failed to furnish the investigation team from Zambia Police supporting documents for the purported expenditures of the money received from ZNAN,” they said.

The trio said ZNAN wrote to MMCI asking for refund of the money but it failed or otherwise declined to pay back the money.

 

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