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Patricia Kaliati yet to pay back toilet loan

Despite being reminded several times, Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati is yet to pay a loan she took in 2011 to construct toilets at her private school in Mulanje, The Daily Times has learnt.

The allegations are contained in a working paper published by International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and authored by Wonderful Hunga, Policy and Advocacy Manager at Centre for Community Organisation and Development (CCODE) titled Financing Sanitation for Low-income Urban Communities: Lessons from CCODE and the Federation in Malawi.

On page 17, the paper alleges that in 2011, Kaliati was excited when she first saw the ecosan toilets in Lilongwe and approached CCODE for a loan for eight toilets for her newly constructed private school (Pak Foundation Private Secondary School). The cost of a toilet then was K40,000.

“The MP made a K40,000 down payment. The loan was issued and works began. Monitoring visits were made and students at the secondary school where these toilets were constructed in a block were trained on their use. But the MP never repaid the loans, even after several calls from the Mulanje Federation leadership.

“The non-payment started taking its toll – the whole Southern Region was infuriated and it was agreed that no more loans to Mulanje until the MP started repaying.

For months, no sanitation loan went to Mulanje, but applications kept trickling in. The MP still did not pay, the region could do nothing and finally rescinded its decision not to make loans to Mulanje,” reads the paper.

Patrick Sankhulani, leader of Mulanje Federation of Rural and Urban Poor, which works with CCODE to disburse revolving loans, corroborated the paper’s allegations and said Kaliati was reminded more than 10 times but still did not seem eager to service the loan.

Sankhulani said it is difficult to resume giving toilet loans in Mulanje because some refer to the minister’s action and think the toilets are free.

“Federation so far is falling to give more loans to poor communities in Mulanje because its loans are revolving, that is to say… no more revolving loans among poor community members in Mulanje because the money is currently with the minister.

“…tell her that the lives of poor communities in Mulanje are failing to operate small businesses to support their children and afford basic necessities because of her failure to pay back the loan,” wrote Sankhulani in an email response.

Kaliati, however, expressed surprise at the claims and appeared to doubt claims that she was contacted. She, however, told the Federation to go to the school on Thursday morning to collect their money.

As if addressing Sankhulani, Kaliati said: “Mr Sankhulani, you didn’t call me, but go to School and take the money after all the school was just empowering your organisation…they are not serious. From 2010? Am sure they know my house…,” said Kaliati in a WhatsApp response.

The federation, however, maintains it contacted the minister and the school and that both kept ignoring and pushing the issue to the other.

Meanwhile, sources at CCODE says the minister called them saying she will instruct the school to pay the money. The source, however, said the loan, now at MK667,158 will not be as useful as it was.

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