Fugitive who surfaced in UK on the run :Girl Child founder Betty Makoni wanted for financial irregularities


Girl Child Network World director and founder Betty Makoni who has been nominated for the CNN Hero of the Year is being sought by Oxfam Novib to explain financial maladministration.

Oxfam Novib has been GCN’s major funders of nine years.

Makoni who has resurfaced in the United Kingdom after ‘fleeing’ Zimbabwe for Botswana last year is currently claiming to be sourcing funds for Taremeredzwa Nomatter Mapungwana who has a life-threatening tumour and needed funds to fly to the UK for an op.

In a letter addressed to the Oxfam Novib headquarters in the Netherlands dated 23 September 2009, Ger Roebeling the Interim Regional Manager for Southern Africa says Makoni is not responding to emails written to her in connection with financial maladministration.

Roebeling states that GCN is not being run properly and that for some time, they had doubts on the way Makoni managed funds.

“Also of concern for at least a year has been the fact that we were having doubts about the financial performance of GCN and lack of verification of expenditures. Our concern became reality after the sudden resignation of the Financial manager in December 2008 and the observations indicated by the auditor in the financial statements 2008.”

Early this year, Makoni requested to clarify the financial situation and give additional information but she did not.

“Unfortunately,” Roebeling wrote, “we never received satisfactory response. Therefore, we decided to start an external system review and expenditures verification and out our transfers on hold.”

GCN financial team then met Oxfam Novib financial manager in May 2009 where they agreed to co-operate with the verification.

Oxfam Novib commissioned KPMG Services Ltd to undertake the external systems review and expenditures verification.

Makoni and her board were notified of the process which should have started in August 2009 but neither Makoni nor the board responded.

“We requested KPMG to contact them directly to plan for this exercise. It seems, however, that the founder/ director of GCN and the (very weak) Board of GCN and the remaining acting director of GCN in Zimbabwe are not co-operating with KPMG,” he said.

KPMG was then requested to plan for a final meeting on 18 September 2009 but GCN financial managers did not attend.

“At the moment, there is a decisive constraint on our relationship with the founder/ director who is not replying to our emails.”

The Oxfam Novib contract ended in September 2009.

“We regret to have to end the relationship with GCN after approximately 8-9 years especially with regard to the thousands of girls they stand for but under the circumstances it would be irresponsible as a donor to go on funding them,” the letter said.

Makoni has been campagning for the CNN Hero of the Year award using Taremeredzwa’s name.

Although she has claimed that she was at the forefront of fund-raising for the girl’s operation, artsinitiates reliably understands that wellwishers in Zimbabwe raised $22,000 and Air Zimbabwe provided tickets to enable Taremeredzwa to fly to the UK where Makoni bought into her case.

Some of the organisations that put in money are Econet $13,600; Stanbic Bank $5,000 and Bishop Trevor Manhanga’s organisation that chipped in $3,600.

Taremeredzwa’s operation needed about 10,000 pounds.

An investigation by artsinitiates also revealed that the so-called sanctuaries Makoni claimed to have built for the girls in Zimbabwe are deserted or are non-existent.

It has also emerged that Makoni treats GCN staff as children and there has been a huge staff turnover in the past two years.

Recently, Zimbabweans in the UK who were asked to help for free complained bitterly when Makoni told them that she would give all the donations to Taremeredzwa and that they would do the work for free.

Makoni has since changed her organisation to an international one called Girl Child Network World.