Zimbabwe Returns $7.3M in Misused Grant Money to Global Fund
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has returned $7.3 million in misused grant money to the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Global Fund Executive Director Michel Kazatchkine said Friday, Reuters reports (Williams, Reuters , 11/7).
The money, which was part of last year's $12.3 million grant, was not returned sooner, because officials in Zimbabwe said they lacked foreign currency. Although John Parsons, the Global Fund inspector general, did not speculate on how the $7.3 million of the grant was spent, he said it had not been used for its intended purpose (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/3). Local media in Zimbabwe reported that the Reserve Bank dispersed the Global Fund money to purchase tractors and televisions. However, the bank denied the allegation, and Kazatchkine said Global Fund officials have "no evidence of fraud" (Reuters , 11/7).
The Global Fund on Thursday had said it would not grant new funding to Zimbabwe until the misused funds were returned, the AP/Boston Globe reports. The Global Fund's board on Friday was expected to consider Zimbabwe's request for $400 million in Round 8 funding (Sharma, AP/Boston Globe, 11/7). The Global Fund's Technical Review Panel recently had recommended the funding be approved (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/3). Kazatchkine on Friday said the Global Fund "greatly appreciates" the return of the funds, adding that it will "accelerate the life-saving activities of the malaria, TB and HIV programs in Zimbabwe" (AP/Boston Globe, 11/7). According to Reuters, Zimbabwe has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates worldwide and has received $88 million in Global Fund grants since 2002 (Reuters , 11/7).