UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
Discussions between the South African government and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria are being held to resolve confusion concerning the disbursement of funds to organisations working on HIV/AIDS issues, a fund official told IRIN on Thursday.
According to Reuters news agency, Richard Feachem, who heads the Global Fund, told South African media this week that it's intolerable that the money gets stuck in Pretoria - and if Pretoria can't move it for any reason, we will simply withdraw it and establish direct relationships with the people actually doing the work.
On Wednesday the South African government described Feachem's comments as false and said the funds had already been distributed to various institutions.
Minister of Health Manto Tshabalala-Msimang observed on Thursday that Feachem's remarks suggested a departure from respecting the sovereignty of a country and as a member of the Board overseeing the functioning of the Global Fund she was satisfied that her government was following the correct procedures in disbursing the funds.
Jon Liden, a spokesman for the fund, told IRIN that Feachem's initial statements had been prompted by complaints from South African organisations that they had not been receiving the funds in time. We did not mean to antagonise the South African government. There were issues on both sides and we are in direct communication with the minister to resolve these issues, he said.
The government was involved in a two-year-long dispute over how the money would be distributed.
According to the Global Fund's website, it has approved more than US 65 million (R425.5 million) over a two-year period for South Africa, of which a little more than 16.6 (R108.6 million) has been disbursed.
(Source: IRIN NEWS, May 27 2004.)