The Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) and the Ombudsman Martha Chizuma have tussled over the latter’s Covid-19 report directives, after she accused Dodma of defying her orders to publicise funds and material assistance towards the pandemic fight.
Dodma has since written the Ombudsman dismissing the claims and in a response, Chizuma has rallied up fresh accusations.
Chizuma made the initial accusations in Lilongwe a fortnight ago when she briefed the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament on her report titled ‘Misplaced Priorities’, which exposed Covid-19 funds abuses.
In the report published last December, the Ombudsman directed Dodma to publicise the status of financial and material support that goes towards the Covid-19 fight.
The report read: “Dodma should publish using radio and newspapers all cash and non-cash donations that they received from March to July 2020, and how they were disbursed and utilised.”
Chizuma, however, was quoted in our sister newspaper The Nation of April 15 2021, condemning Dodma for defying her orders.
In the letter to the Ombudsman, dated 15 April 2021, Dodma argues that it complied with the directive.
“I write to inform you that the department complied with the directive to, by January 30 2021, publish two times—during the week and weekend—using radio and newspapers all cash and kind donations…” reads the letter, in part.
Signed by Moses Chimphepo, commissioner for disaster management affairs, the letter is enclosed with newspaper cutting of the notice they placed in the newspaper.
But, in her response, Chizuma, while acknowledging that Dodma had implemented her directive on publicising the donations, faulted the department for, among other things not disciplining an unnamed employee over alleged abuse of K500 000.
“I am yet to get any update on the status of the investigations on the matter and if disciplinary action was carried out. I expect to get the same before end of May 2021,’’ the letter further reads.
In the Ombudsman’s report which centred on the coordination cluster of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19, Chizuma found out that around 80 percent of the funds meant for Covid-19 fight were exhausted on allowances.
Chimphepo, who signed the letter updating the Ombudman on her directives, is among 61 people who have been arrested on suspicion that they abused part of the K6.2 billion allocated to fight Covid-19.