Betty Makoni hits back

Below we publish the embattled Girl Child President Betty Makoni's statement on circumstances surrounding the organisation and its widely reported alleged fraudulent activities.

Dear friends

I have picked up a number of on-line newspapers whose information is inaccurate,speculative, rumuored and confusing to most of our supporters and we will do everything possible to set record straight because our work for Girl Child Network Worldwide must move on .We have a vision and mission more compelling and we hold such closest to our hearts.

I have seen a number of women and men being quoted by the media on various issues on operations of GCNW and wish to inform members of the public that these are not anywhere in our structures.

I have tried to follow up on their stories on Tare the girl with a tumour I personally got to help with support from many stakeholders and I have concluded that it is just an individual like police here have said to me trying to manipulate the public and using on-line newspapers for personal agenda.

We have tracked the sources being quoted and found out that nowhere do we have such individuals as official representatives of GCNW as co Founder members.

I have checked all minutes of meetings recently held with trustees when I was away and I have one on resolution on GCNW Leadership transition and another on appointment of new GCNW trustees. As GCNW President I have a specific role assigned to me by trustees and that’s the role I am currently playing.

On 1 September trustees assigned Priscilla Nyathi role Volunteer Director of programs who reports to the President and this was officially confirmed by chair of trustees to her.

I have found out that trustees are through with GCNW Business plan for 2010 to 2015 as discussed at strategic meeting of 1 to 3 September 2009 and this was done in the presence of 10 high professionals and an expert international facilitator who helped come up with GCNW structure and can confirm new roles and responsibilities assigned to us.

I have seen all communication sent to us by various stakeholders and none suggest GCNW is at war with anyone and in fact many letters and cheque donations we have follow the CNN hero award and there are thousands of congratulatory messages especially from USA.

I have seen minutes of meetings to monitor Tare and nowhere has it been said she is a pauper. I have thoroughly gone through all our bank statements and found all funds professionally transferred to hospital. I have seen bank statements with withdrawals and each program outline done is very clear how the funds were used.

I have received a report from Tare mum and I have studied how she spent 2073 pounds in the last three weeks I was away .I have been notified there is a second operation and GCNW has finished with first operation and so we want to make a formal press release to update the public but if one visits our website this statement has already been made and its clear where Tare case stands.

I have been informed by the journalist working on Tare documentary that soon it will be out just to show how her journey to treatment and healing has been(there is possibility this will be shown on BBC ) .

So the information I have with me in our offices based at the Dove project is not what is reported in the media at the moment .We have a media policy and confidentiality and data protection policy since we deal with vulnerable girls and I can see how seriously violated these have been something I urgently need to work to correct as President of GCNW.

I have already called for six meetings with all our volunteers including the one giving out press statements and whereas everyone in GCNW has attended the meetings ,one volunteer has not turned up which has made it very hard to understand why and so we are trying to see what information has been let loose and which information has not been properly packaged for public consumption so that a team of volunteers can help correct it and stop further damage.

Some emails being posted on the internet cannot be forwarded to a third party or sent out as press releases because most of it is work in progress.

Girl Child Network Worldwide had a strategic plan meeting in Essex on 1 to 3 September and agreed that from 1 September 2009 the structure of the organisation will have the following 5 Trustees -one coming from each continent and so far we have 3 trustees who are highly respectable and highly qualified women who have experience and knowledge of managing charitable organisations-we have one American ,one British and one Canadian and all appointments were done by chair of trustees as provided in our deed of trust.

There are still two vacancies for trustees .So at governance level the chair and leader is Leanne Grossmann who is based in the USA and she has made appointments of two trustees already . There are other trustees we have heard about through the media but we have seen none of them in our structures and so this needs to be corrected urgently.

On 8 November 2009 ,we had a special meeting as required by our deed of trust .As GCNW we have started registering other chapters for GCNW in preparation for Million Dollar Campaign ……

Many people have called me to ask how Priscilla is linked to GCNW and since I cant respond to each and every email and phone call, let me give a quick brief .When I came to the UK, my sister in law introduced me to Priscilla Nyathi and told me she was very interested in joining GCNW .On 29 April 2009 I met with Priscilla and we had a very good meeting where I shared with her what we want to do in England with GCNW and how we feel replication of GCNW here could help girls worldwide.

I explained to her that I had worked since September 2007 with Leanne Grossmann to ensure GCNW is replicated throughout the world because many girls and women inspired with my work wanted to form girls clubs .Priscilla said she was interested in joining but I just want to say by the time I met with Priscilla GCNW had been formed and I had pro bono lawyers in London who had started helping with registration of GCNW as a charity and I invited her to join as a trustee.

The team of pro bono lawyers who offered to help with registration of GCNW and I signed an agreement on how they could render their support of which they were very professional and insisted this matter was confidential between them and GCNW and the name cannot be used or mentioned anywhere in connection with this help.

I invited Priscilla and myself to sign as trustees and so I became chair of trustees .As we got more advice we realised that we were not acting like trustees but we found ourselves doing day to day running of the organisation especially in trying to get an institutional grant to set the organisation. I contacted one of our donors in USA who gave us a grant for institutional capacity building for GCNW and this donor has worked with me and GCN Zimbabwe for six years.

GCNW explained to our donor that GCNW was to be set up with the help of Leanne as a trustee and that I would be unpaid President and CEO whilst Priscilla would be volunteer Director of Programs since she was so keen to be involved .So I have known Priscilla for only 4 months and to be frank I cant say since we met there is a day we disagreed on anything and we have been seen at the Dove project many times.

When I came back from the USA I learnt of so many comments on the internet and like everyone else I am not sure what happened during the time I was away and how GCNW got linked to all these other networks and how Priscilla is linked to them and I am not so sure who pulled out receipts from our offices and many filed documents to put on the internet and am I now know what the motive behind all this is .Many people who called said I should say something to defend my self and to counter the defamatory statements.

Women like Barbara and Priscilla have their own privacy and they must be protected and I will never be naive to pass on defamatory statements on any leader because I have no capacity to do so and that’s not my focus .I cant even do any action against any leader because that is not the mandate of GCNW -OUR FOCUS AND MANDATE IS ON GIRLS !!!!

On 8 November 2009 myself and Priscilla stepped down as trustees and there is a resolution that we passed to let Leanne and another trustee take over whilst we focus on rolling out of our business plan and fund-raising for GCNW as it has become apparent girls are in dire need of help especially in Zimbabwe .We also agreed we could set up a Girls Empowerment and Education Fund to help girls like Tare and many others in need of urgent help.

The fact that by then I had been nominated top ten CNN hero made everything to do with fund-raising easier especially in linking me up with potential donors and this is despite the fact that Zimbabwe newspapers and some Zimbabweans whom I know personally had started a smear campaign against me targeted to scuttle the CNN Vote.

I had lots of good contacts who really understood me and trusted the fact that I deliver to the girls and so they followed me and made donations and helped in the CNN Vote as well as strategic plan for GCNW .Of course the defamatory statements passed on the internet affected me a lot but this did not stop me from going on on mobilising resources for Tare and other girls because by then the girls emailed me desperately to help.

On 29 August 2009 ,Dove project in South End on sea,Essex ,England which is a project helping women in domestic violence agreed to host GCNW and share office space with us but previously they had given me an office to operate from whilst I wait to get the first grant from a trusted donor I have worked with for over six years .I have worked very well with leaders from the Dove project and they are the ones who have volunteered with communication and setting up an office for me .They organised an open day where all stakeholders in South End were invited to meet with me and I presented on my work even at the Mayor`s residence.

Of course to all stakeholders in Essex and England I explained my reason for leaving Zimbabwe and the fact that world over girls wanted to see GCNW work move on and so at the Dove project I have great friends who work with me and they are the ones helping set up GCNW .They are fully aware of everything going on and they have also recieved envelopes and envelopes on defamatory information circulating on the internet but since they have all facts on the whole smear campaign they have been supportive to ensure one day it ends.

So GCNW structure as from 1 September 2009 is as follows ;3 Trustees and Leanne Grosman is Chair of trustees .The trustees appointed me to be President and CEO(Non paid because we dont have resources to pay staff at the moment as 100% of our money goes to girls directly).Prisciallah has always volunteered in GCNW as Director of programs from 1 September 2009 .Priscillah is also now full time Trainee Business Advisor with SAVS as she serves on the Zimbabwe Network in South end on sea where GCNW is also a member.

This project she is currently working on will in future help women from Black and Minority groups to set up businesses and as far as I know she has given this a lot of time and has been on training since October 2009 . Since we both volunteer we decide what time to spend on GCNW and on other projects elsewhere but I am full time unpaid CEO for GCNW at the moment and I have no other commitments and that’s why I have been on Tare and other girls appeals full time.

We have a part time Office manager and this year we will make a formal appointment that the Dove project staff help us with office management due to their vast experience in the area and because they are highly professional .Recently through the help of Dove project we recruited a part time accountant and so far all our financial management is in great hands .Building GCNW structure is still work in progress and so far we rely on volunteers more than anything else.

Given the above structure above I am shocked to see press quoting from GCNW co founders and Directors and I have seen many articles circulating with other women from other networks commenting on GCNW work and this needs to be corrected urgently.

I have seen some comments and articles posted on the net quoting from sources close to GCNW and I am not so sure in what capacity these individuals have chosen to represent GCNW because GCNW has 3 trustees and a team of volunteers who are helping to set up the organisation .Our trustees are the sole custodians of GCNW and this according to a special resolution of 8 November 2009.

Also I wish to make it clear that Girl Child Network was not formed in UK but it is replicated in UK,Uganda,Canada ,Swaziland and many other countries like Brazil and in all intents and purposes none of our country directors or coordinators has been quoted in the press as Directors and co founders. Volunteers join in because they want to be part of us and learn more .We are pretty much at a stage where in 2009 we spent time learning who is who in GCNW and just now when we have a business plan in place ,we hope our trustees will give professional advice on way forward .Its unfortunate that despite so many meetings and all that has been done by trustees we have such media reports generated by certain individuals.

It is regrettable that so much inaccurate information has been circulated around the media and it looks many journalists have been duped to believe so called emails and other internal documents are evidence of whatever claims the women are making. In fact I have gone through our accounts ,bank statements and other internal information and I could not find anywhere where such issues are and so we are with a team of legal experts to help us correct what is currently circulating and we have identified the individual women who were so irresponsible for such information and they have to help put record right to the public very soon.

An official report on the smear campaign is with the police in Essex and they have moved in to investigate the motive behind this .So we are at a stage where as an organisation we feel individuals have been carried away to write about us without further investigating ,we have realised that the general public has all along been manipulated by three individual women who acted unprofessionally and since we have legal experts and other stakeholders in UK who have moved in to help we will keep updating everyone how this is moving but the individuals doing all this have been identified and we are not the only victim of their actions in as far as I have heard and it looks its a syndicate of some sort that uses online media contacts and connections to do smear campaigns.

On all reports on my leadership in Zimbabwe and how GCN Zimbabwe finances were managed I have seen general defamatory statements made as well since May 2008 .First everyone should know that I started leading GCN Zimbabwe in 1998 and worked for the organisation from 1999 to 2000 as a volunteer .Since then I worked with 18 big and small funders .Every year each one of them required GCN Zimbabwe to submit reports ,audits and sometimes receipts .During my leadership many donors rated my reports exceptional and I dont owe any donor any report up until I left Zimbabwe .During the ten years of my leadership I managed 12 million US dollars and there are audited reports from 2001 to 2008 up until I left Zimbabwe which show how funds were approved by donors and used .The 8 audited reports can give a very clear and straight responses to all these allegations .Any donors who had queries contacted GCN Zimbabwe to make comments and recommendations.

On Oxfam Novib issue I was really shocked to see a letter purportedly from them because first I sit on the Round Table of Oxfam Novib and they consult used to consult me on many issues and second I have been to Holland countless times until April 2009 for many Oxfam Novib activities and meetings and recently I was shocked they were looking for me when in June 2009 I met with their representative in London at my house .However ,I am so happy that donors whose reports we submitted and who know us through and through have many questions than answers to all the letters we saw circulating on Oxfam Novib .Needless to say that this case is now being handled by a team of legal and accounting experts and we are hoping we will get to know more very soon as already contact has been made with Oxfam Novib.

GCN Zimbabwe reports on what I did are so well documented and one needs no rumour to write about GCNW because the documentation of our work impressed many many donors and for years we remained one their good practice organisations.  Moreso when it comes to financial management ,I have worked with men and women of integrity and I always trusted what they did .Its not like I was the one managing finances at all and so all this will soon be corrected so that many of the women doing smear campaign against me do not use this as a weapon to destroy the good work I started .so far I have never been contacted direct by any donor whose report I did not submit and if any funds were embezzled how come there no one knows how much.

On the Tare issue there is a film company in UK who have been filming Tare and her journey to treatment since she came over and they continue taking her footage and we will use this documentary when its out to prove that after all the women who started this campaign did not have Tare at heart but wanted to manipulate the public for personal fame .We are yet to see where she got to a stage where she is a pauper .Our accounts for Tare are with a professional accountant and our bank statements and pay pal accounts are all very clear and one will have to show the world which funds were embezzled.  Our audited statements from Zimbabwe are very clear and again we want all these individuals to prove why they wrote all these defamatory statements .We are past stage where such individuals were simply trying to manipulate the public ,we are at a stage where they must prove what they said whilst I show the accurate and authentic audited reports I have.

Its great we have a great team of legal and financial experts who have joined us and soon record will be straight and this will help us clear our way.

The case of GCNW ,Tare has been unnecessarily complicated and for a reason to confuse public and to target my person .There comes a time when we must be persecuted but a time is ripe to set record straight and move on because an individual cannot wake up to target Betty Makoni and then deprive thousands of girls of their right to have GCNW and cause such damage and just get away with it.

I will keep all of you informed on any latest developments and please note that if GCNW has official updates and any issues our website www.girlchildnetworkworldwide.org will give it all to you .I am the official spokerperson for GCNW and I dont send out statements on my own but I get advice from one of our trustess who is a media expert . And so it is strongly advised that any journalist writing about GCNW calls us to find out if volunteer so and so on have accurate information because the danger of misinforming the public about our organisation is that it steals our public image and it can lead to serious legal defamation cases in court and so we have strong grounds to win all these cases because we keep all our documentation on our finances ,clients and just everything so well documented.

Please email to me to get a copy of our business plan so that you know our mission,vision,programs,structure etc as agreed at strategic meeting of 1 to 3 September 2009 and thats our focus right now .I can see we are being closely connected to Tare case and yet it is but one of the thousands we deal with daily.

Also if you have any queries email us at info@girlchildnetworkworldwide.org This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or gcnworldwide@btinternet.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

We have a team of professionals to give you more accurate information on GCNW and other issues .I can see many women who have given out statements are not in our structures and if they are our volunteers and they all report to me .So far information they have irresponsibly given out has caused unnecessary confusion and this is not fair because it took us the whole of 2009 as GCNW to come up with this organisation and a business plan.

Betty Makoni
President and Founder
Girl Child Network Worldwide