President Lazarus Chakwera says an audit of the K6.2 billion Covid-19 response funds will take one month and it will cover the period between September and December 2020.
Making his seventh
National Address on the War on Covid-19, the President said the audit will focus on validation of the report from the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 and probe the expenditures made.
He said: “The second [part] will focus on investigating how every kwacha was spent, by whom and whether the spending was lawful.
“Upon completion of the independent audit, any public officers associated with wrongdoing will be dealt with and face the law.”
During his address, Chakwera invited Secretary to the President and Cabinet Zangazanga Chikhosi to confirm if interdictions of
cluster heads the President directed last week were effected. In a brief response, Chikhosi responded in affirmative.
The President had directed Chikhosi to interdict controlling officers and heads of Covid-19 response clusters for failing to submit weekly expenditure reports on their allocation of the K17.5 billion Treasury disbursed last month. The controlling officers and heads of clusters were also faulted for presenting expenditure reports void of supporting documents to the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 regarding how they spent their share of the K6.2 billion.
Police last week arrested 16 employees of the Department of Disaster Management Af fairs (Dodma) in relation to the management of the K6.2 billion response funds.
The President’s order to interdict en masse the controlling officers, who include heads of government ministries, departments and agencies such as principal secretaries (PSs), district commissioners, chief executive officers of councils, has sparked debate regarding the legality.
In apparent direct response to the sentiments, Chakwera said he tasked the Office of the President and Cabinet to consult with the Solicitor General, the acting Auditor General “and others” to ensure that the interdiction letters were written in a manner
compliant with the law.
It could not be immediately established why the President did not mention the Attorney General among those to be consulted. The office of the Attorney General is the chief legal adviser to the government and recently the incumbent Chikosa Silungwe has stirred debate over some of his legal opinions, including his position that interdicting people on no pay was illegal.
The President also said delivery of 1.5 million jabs of AstraZeneca vaccine was on course for roll out of the vaccination process in March.
While giving an update of procurements of requirements such as oxygen cylinders, ventilators, testing kits and others, Chakwera also commended efforts from several partners, including the Covid-19 Private Citizens Response—an initiative by two Malawians in Diaspora Stanley Kenani and Thandiwe Hara—and others for being part of the solution.
He said the civil service systems review team led by Vice-president Saulos Chilima will draw lessons from such private sector initiatives in its quest to redesign the civil service towards greater efficiency and accountability.
Taking his turn, newly appointed co-chairperson of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 Dr. Wilfred Chalamira Nkhoma said the task force will review its systems to ensure protection of public funds, adding that, among others, the taskforce had suspended all funding to all clusters until a review of activities and lined up expenditure.
The country had registered 30742 positive cases and 1013 deaths as of yesterday.
In the past week, 54 people died of Covid-19 while 2 861 recovered. The positivity rate stood at 15 percent, still higher than the targeted below five percent