News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Saturday February 16th 2019

Local NGOs yet to see overdue Global Fund money despite its release three weeks ago

Although the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria grant has, according to the United Nations news service, finally released R53.25m of the grant on February 6, South African NGOs that qualified for the grant have yet to receive a cent of the monies which were originally due seven months ago.

The United Nations’ IRIN PlusNews service reported that US$7.1m of the Geneva-based international Global Fund’s Round 6 HIV grant was released to the South African Treasury on February 6, the same day seven of the grant’s sub-recipients sent a letter to Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi pleading for his intervention to obtain the money which was expected in July last year.

Organisations such as the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and SA Business Coalition on HIV/Aids (SABCOHA) have had to close offices and curtail activities as a result in the disbursement delays.

The release of the funds to the Department of Health, which disperses the money to sub-recipients, could bring some relief to the cash-strapped organizations that successfully applied for the Round 6 funding in 2011.

However the seven sub-recipients have yet to receive their portion of the funds.

PlusNews reported that since November last year the Global Fund has experienced administrative difficulty in its financial department. First came a funding crisis, then allegations of corruption and finally, early this year, executive director Michel Kazatchkine resigned. The new general manager, Gabriel Jaramillo, is expected to spearhead a reform process.

The South African sub-recipients of the Round 6 funding would like to see some change.

As a result of the news of the release of the Round 6 funds, TAC Treasurer Nathan Geffen said the tranche, originally expected in July last year, and then December, was most recently expected “a week ago”.

It would have accounted for “40 to 50 percent of the amount they promised us last year,” said Geffen.

“We haven’t received a cent of it. January’s tranche is not even on the horizon.”

He said the organization had “no idea when to expect the money”.

“Almost every tranche has been late since the beginning.

“What has become patently clear is that the Global Fund systems are so complex that neither the Fund nor its principal recipient, the Department of Health, is able to manage the system properly,” he said.

“Global Fund is unequivocally the most incompetent funding institution I have ever dealt with.”

SABCOHA CEO, Brad Mears said he believed the reason for the delay in funding was that “someone at Global Fund made an executive decision to halt funding when they shouldn’t have”.

“Global Fund was not always incompetently run. Its genesis structure under Dr Richard Feachem, then Executive Director, was quite efficient,” said Mears.

However, the funding delays meant SABCOHA had had to retrench two senior members of staff due to cash shortages.

“Philanthropic good in the community has been damaged as a result of Global Fund’s mismanagement,” he said, and their inability to stick to agreed timeframes had resulted in “a sense of mistrust and a lack of faith in the private sector”.

Minister Motsoaledi said of the crisis, “we are looking at what the delay has been, and we have tried to correct everything that could have been wrong,” – Kate Gerber

Tags: Aaron Motsoaledi, aids, Brad Mears, department of health, Dr Richard Feachem, Gabriel Jaramillo, Global Fund, IRIN PlusNews service, malaria, Michel Kazatchkine, Nathan Geffen, Round 6, SA Business Coalition on HIV/Aids, Treatment Action Campaign, Tuberculosis, United Nations news service

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