The Botswana Network For People Living with HIV/AIDS ÔÇô BONEPWA is reportedly on the verge of collapse due to poor management of funds, The Telegraph has learnt. The reports come at a time when the NGO has suspended its long time Executive Director and the first Motswana to go public about his HIV status David Ngele.
Allegations are that BONEPWA is failing to account for P800 000 disbursed to it by the National Aids Coordinating Agency (NACA).┬á
Contacted for comment, Ngele said he was not in a position to comment on the matter and referred The Telegraph to NACA.
“For now, I have been advised not to talk to the papers. Please check NACA because they are acting as the mediator in this matter,” he said.
Responding to The Telegraph queries, NACA Coordinator, Richard Matlhare, said BONEPWA had expected some grants from two donors and the funds were delayed.
“In order to avoid delaying or halting implementation of its programmes, BONEPWA utilized NACA funds in the hope that they would replenish the budget line once the funds from the two donors were availed. However, there were delays in releasing the anticipated funds from such donors,” said Matlhare.
When BONEPWA experienced financial challenges, Matlhare revealed, they requested bailout from NACA.
“NACA could not assist as this would be in contravention of government financial regulations. Since BONEPWA plays a critical role in the National Response to HIV and AIDS, NACA had to ensure that BONEPWA continues to operate than close; and is currently exploring options and collaborating with other development partners for any possible intervention to rescue the organization,” said Matlhare.
So far, Matlhare said, the response has been positive through joint facilitation of NACA, Ministry of Health, some Development Partners and BONEPWA Board itself.
“None of us want BONEPWA to grind to a halt and collapse as this would deny services to many communities depending on BONEPWA for psychosocial support,” he said.
Therefore NACA, Matlhare said, did not call for the resignation of Mr Ngele or any BONEPWA employees, as mentioned earlier.
“Any┬á organization facing financial difficulties will have to determine how it deals with its employees— downsize, volunteer without salaries, cut down salaries, close, liquidate etc,”┬á he said.
He revealed that it is a common practice during implementation that situations might call for re-programming of funds to satisfy a genuine need that would have come up. This would occur under the last two scenarios.┬á
“However, prior consent should be given by the donor before any such reprogramming takes place.┬á Failure to seek and be granted such authority to re-programme constitutes failure to account as the report on expenditures would not reconcile with the planned expenditures in the approved activity plan,” said Matlhare.
Therefore, government, through NACA as in this case, Matlhare added is obliged to ensure that such resources are not channelled through institutions that are deficient in proper governance and, therefore, likely not to fully account for the resources, and in the process tarnish the reputation and credibility of the country to continue receiving donor support, and not only for HIV and AIDS but all other development needs.
It is for this reason that efforts are made to ensure NGOs have sufficient capacities to effectively and efficiently manage donor resources.
“Secondly, let us appreciate that our national resources are slowly getting depleted, and the competition for national resources is intensifying. With the advent of the economic gains that the country has achieved, more and more of our traditional development partners are now focusing their attention elsewhere. Thus there is need to intensify our resource mobilization efforts to fill the resultant gap,” he said.
For this reason, he added “we cannot afford to have a situation where donors will not invest their
resources in a particular NGO simply because of governance challenges that can be easily overcome.”
Matlhare said since NACA has a vested interest to ensure the NGOs deliver on their mandates in line with attainment of the National Strategic Framework┬á on HIV and AIDS objectives, NACA cannot afford to sit on the sidewalks and be a spectator when it becomes apparent that a particular NGO needs intervention to make it properly functional.
“The sustainability of funding the national response cannot be guaranteed. Strategies to sustain it involve more community mobilization, participation and involvement to effect positive behaviour changes and prevent new infections,” he said.
BONEPWA was founded by Ngele in 2000 as a national network for people living with HIV/AIDS. It works to improve the well being and quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS.