By Rebecca Chimjeka
Early in 2017, musician Patience Namadingo launched a 40-day campaign to raise money for the children’s cancer ward at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (Qech).
Banks, individuals and various quarters supported the cause, making pledges and delivering actual donations.
By end of May that year, Namadingo announced he had raised K15 million.
And he told The Daily Times of June 2, 2017 that he would be handing over the money to Qech that week.
Today, 5 years later, no one knows where that money was delivered.
Qech which was supposed to receive the money says it did not receive anything.
Ministry of Health says the money was never handed to it.
And one of the banks that pledged support says it handed over the money to the campaign.
Qech Director Samson Ndolo said no money from the campaign was ever handed over to the hospital for the project.
“I was not the director then. [But] after I became director, I followed up the issue. As we are talking, the money was not remitted to the hospital for the project,” Ndolo told The Sunday Times yesterday.
We also engaged the Ministry of Health whether it got any money or anything from the campaign which Namadingo dubbed ‘Song for a penny’.
Spokesperson for the ministry, Adrian Chikumbe, said: “I can confirm that we did not get a single penny out of that campaign.”
But what does the musician himself say?
In a telephone interview, Namadingo, while acknowledging that the campaign indeed raised K15 million, said about K12 million of this money is still in the custody of individuals and companies that made pledges.
He further blamed Qech for what he said double standards by its officials.
According to him, Qech administration declined to receive items raised through the campaign because they wanted to receive cash instead.
“I did not want anyone to handle cash. So, my plan was to be instructing well-wishers to directly pay suppliers for the Qech paediatric cancer project for the supply of goods and services.
“So, as we speak about K12 million of the total pledges still lies with the well-wishers,” Namadingo said.
But one of the banks, CDH Investment Bank, which responded to the cause has cleared itself that it is not one of those still keeping what it pledged.
Spokesperson for the bank, Nancy Bisika, said yesterday they handed over their donation.
“I can confirm that we released the funds on 31st March 2017 to Patience Namadingo – Kids Cancer Ward Donation.
“Our intention was to support the call for assistance for Qech Children’s Cancer Ward through Patience Namadingo campaign.
“We are surprised to hear from you that the funds were not handed over but the payment was done from our end as I have advised,” she said in a WhatsApp text.
According to the World Child Cancer which partnered with the paediatric oncology unit at the Qech, the hospital is the main tertiary care centre providing diagnosis and treatment for children with cancer in Malawi.
It says the hospital diagnoses around 30 percent of the 1,000 expected annual cases in Malawi, mainly comprising Burkitt lymphoma and other relatively easily treatable solid tumours.
It further says it requires up to £500 (about K600, 000) to treat a child with Burkitt lymphoma in Malawi.