THE Lusaka High Court has granted former first lady Maureen Mwanawasa and five others an order to stay the execution of the judgment which ordered them to pay back over K1.2 million received for
The money was received through a non-governmental organisation the ZambiaNational AIDS Network (ZNAN) for HIV/AIDS-related activities and claimed they had failed to account for it.
This is in a matter in which ZNAN sued Dr Mwanawasa and five others for failure to account for a K1.25 million grant given to the Maureen Mwanawasa Community Initiative (MMCI).
Lusaka High Court deputy registrar Charles Zulu in his order that the judgment be set aside pending hearing and final disposal of the defendant’s application to stay the judgment in default aside.
The six, Dr Mwanawasa, Noreen Mapala, Wright Mumeka, Sam Mundia, Simon Sakala and Rosario Fundanga lodged an application to set aside the judgment in default stating that they did not make any appearance before court because they had agreed to negotiate outside Court.
“Our failure to enter appearance and defence, was therefore neither deliberate nor willful, we did not enter appearance and defence because we were involved in negotiations with the plaintiffs who
assured us that the matter was going to be resolved ex curia,” they said.
Dr Mwanawasa and others denied owing the said organisation the said money, saying they were only aware about the K148,524,936 (un-rebased) for which written confirmations were still being awaited from beneficiaries.
They claimed that moneys were paid to the beneficiaries through cheques directly to the schools, and hence compelling the malicious reports against the defendants for misuse of funds.
“In all circumstances of this case, the defendants have a defence on the merits, in the interest of justice, requires that this matter be tried, so that we are given an opportunity to produce they bulky bank
statements and cheques in our possession, to prove that the judgment sum is not owed,” they said.
In its statement of claim filed in the Lusaka High Court, ZNAN demanded that the six MMCI trustees pay back the K1.25 million they got from the organisation which they failed to account for.
ZNAN further stated that the six trustees have declined to refund the money despite them having been served with several reminders as well as a letter of summons from the High Court.
The organisation, through its lawyers, claimed that it has suffered loss and damage and further asked the court to grant it any relief that it may deem fit.
ZNAN was a principal recipient of the grants administered on behalf of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria.
It received about US$36.01 million and the MMCI applied to access part of the funds to use on people living with HIV and AIDS and to facilitate the development of life skills in young people to reduce their vulnerability to infection with HIV.
Other programmes the funds were applied for are to facilitate voluntary counselling and testing (VCT), prevention of mother-to -child transmission as well as to support orphans and vulnerable people in societies, among other key programmes.
But in 2010, the Global Fund Office of the Investigator General conducted an audit of MMCI in relation to the funds it received from ZNAN and discovered irregularities on the part of the NGO in that it
mismanaged or misappropriated K1.25 million on unsupported expenditures.
[times of zambia]