UTM has defended its Secretary General Patricia Kaliati who is also Minister of Gender, Children and Social Welfare over criticism that she allegedly used party structures to hand out forms to women for loans disbursed through the Malawi Enterprise Development Fund (MEDF).
The Minister’s criticism came following her recent visit to Karonga where it has been alleged that during her visit she held a meeting with women from the party where MEDF forms were distributed to women’s groups.
Speaking in an interview, UTM Secretary for the North Jane Mbale who accompanied the Minister at the meeting, said Kaliati did nothing wrong since she did not distribute MEDF forms as it is being alleged by certain quarters of the public.
“The truth of the matter is that the honourable Minister came to Karonga on government duties and seeing this the Karonga businesswomen invited her for an audience where they wanted to discuss with her issues of business, MEDF loans and a word of encouragement from the Minister and at no point in time did she distribute forms as it is being alleged,” Mbale said.
She added that during the brief meeting, women from different political parties were present and not only UTM supporters.
“It’s very unfortunate that some people are spreading fake news in order to tarnish the party and that of the honourable minister but as a party we remain unshaken and united,” she warned.
Susan Mwakikunga one of the business women present at the meeting, said it was unfortunate that certain individuals have politicised the Minister’s meeting with them as their audience with Kaliati was simply a meeting for the Karonga business women and not a party function.
Over the weekend, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Vice President Harry Mkandawire claimed that Kaliati distributed fake MEDF forms in Karonga.
He added that the first beneficiaries of the MEDF forms will be MCP supporters because its leader Lazarus Chakwera is the president.
Chakwera’s MCP is in the Tonse Alliance with UTM which is led by Vice President Saulos Chilima.
The MCP is yet to comment on Mkandawire’s remarks despite calls for the party to disown the comments.
Meanwhile, Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace under the Karonga diocese Desk Officer Lewis Nkhatha, has warned politicians not to meddle in issues of MEDF loans.
“We do not want what was happening in the past and indeed in the past government where party loyalists were given preferential treatment when it came to public developmental resources and services as this created inequality among people hence the warning to politicians to not interfere in such public resources,” he explained.