Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 says it is still studying reports by councils and clusters on how funds were used.
Co-chair of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, Chalamira Nkhoma, said in an interview on Thursday the task force was making some observations in the reports, but hinted the major task was on the National Audit Office (NAO) currently undertaking an audit on K6.2 billion.
Treasury released the K6.2 billion in August 2020, of which K1.2 billion was allocated to district councils who allegedly abused it.
Nkhoma was coy on disclosing the task force’s initial observations on the reports received, but said whatever they find was passed on to the President or relevant authorities for their action.
He said a team acting for the President also approached the task force and compiled its observations on the reports which they were to pass on to the President.
Nkhoma said clusters and councils also stopped the use of K17.5 billion Covid-19 funds disbursement and returned whatever they were remaining with to DoDMA, except the ministries of Health and Education.
“Ministry of Health was processing procurement of the Covid-19 vaccination and they needed these funds and Ministry of Education was also exempted because schools were opening and they needed funds to acquire Covid-19 protective wear and to put up structures ,” the task force co-chair said.
An audit by NAO would expose who plundered K5 billion Covid-19 funds as only K1.2 billion is what was said to have been allocated to the district councils out of the K6.2 billion.
Apart from district councils blamed for the plunder of the Covid funds, it has not been made clear which other public offices were involved.
Reverend Moses Chimphepo, a director at the Department of Disaster and Management Affairs (DoDMA), said in an interview yesterday his department was also looking forward to the audit by NAO and could not comment on the matter.
He said his department, being the one under audit, was not in a better place to comment as what happened to the K6.2 billion funding would only be known after the audit.
NAO disclosed on Wednesday that it has started the audit on K6.2 billion, and this is coming on the heels of President Lazarus Chakwera’s directive that this audit be done within one month.
Presidential press secretary Brian Banda said in an interview the information the President received was channelled to NAO for the underway audit.
NAO spokesperson Rabson Kagwamminga told the media Wednesday the audit had just begun.
He disclosed audit teams have been dispatched to local councils and public institutions, specifically to establish how the K6.2 billion funds were used.
The focus of the audit on the K6.2 billion, according to Chakwera, was to establish how the funds were spent and whether spending was lawful, among others.
The President had warned public officers found to be in the wrong were to be dealt with and face the law.
Delivering his fifth National Address on the war on Covid-19 on February 7 2021, the President gave the respective ministries and clusters 48 hours to account for the funds to the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19.
The speculation comes after the President had initially presented an expenditure breakdown that, among other things, indicated allocations for meetings and other items critics felt were not a priority.