In less than 20 days after the United States unfroze $350 million in foreign aid to Malawi, the government is claiming that Norwegian and Dutch funding of NGOs working for LGBTI human rights is "being used by external forces to destabilize the government…These are the people who are being used as agents from the government’s enemies." Information and Civic Education Minister Vuwa Kaunda and Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Dr George Chaponda handed the media a document with information about the donations.
The government is targeting two NGOs specifically: Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Centre for the Development of People (CEDEP).
Malawi government has handed over a document to the media which outlines the NGOs three year project aimed at raising awareness on Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender (LGBT) with the funding from the Royal Norwegian Embassy and the Dutch government.
The document which was handed over by Minister of Information and Civic Education Vuwa Kaunda, indicates that the two organizations, Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) and Center for the Development of People (CEDEP) will jointly run a project from 2010-2011 which will see them training media and support LGBT people in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Ministers Vuwa Kaunda, Chaponda and presidential spokesman Hetherwick Ntaba
Vuwa was accompanied at the news conference by Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Dr George Chaponda.
The MK99, 400 000 (US$700 000) will also lobby for policy and legal changes, train media and support LGBT people to fight HIV/AIDS and promote LGBT human rights as a way to find a long lasting solution to address the problem of discrimination, stigmatization and criminalization of homosexuality in the country.
“CHRR and CEDEP will be holding a national conference, whose theme would be ‘LGBT also have Rights, lets include them in the fight against HIV/AIDS’ intended to help set a road map based on views and issues to be raised at the conference. We will take a human rights angle which is more holistic approach to the matter in that it raises more rights and welfare issues for the LGBT,” reads part of the project signed by Undule Mwakasungula, CHRR Executive Director and Gift Trapence the CEDEP Director.
Mwakasungula, who is currently training journalists on the same in Machinga at Hippo View Lodge, refused to comment on the issue when contacted.
The document further indicates, in the introduction that they will carry out the planned activities which shall include capacity building, training, policy advocacy and lobbying, media outreach, materials production, research and dissemination.
“CHRR and CEDEP would require funds amounting to MK99 400 000 (US$ 700, 000) and we kindly ask the Royal Norwegian Embassy and the Dutch government to support the cause,” reads the document.
Specific objectives of the projects are to advocate for constitutional, legal and policy reform to accommodate LGBT, to train the media on how to educate the general public on matters of LGBT and to support those who are already in trouble with the laws of Malawi, among others.
Chaponda said this has vindicated what the country’s President Bingu wa Mutharika has been saying that some NGOs are being used by external forces to destabilize the government.
“What is raising more questions is that they are implementing the project with the current training which on ongoing in Machinga meaning they were given the funding. These are the people who are being used as agents from the government’s enemies,” he said.
When quized if they found out that the NGOs have already given the monies, Kaunda said, “We don’t know, but one wonders that if they have not been given the money, why are they holding a workshop which has been writen in the document?”
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