Human Rights Defenders Coalition has asked the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) to explain the K6.2 billion expenditure on the Covid-19 pandemic fight.
In one of the addresses President Lazarus Chakwera made on Covid-19, he disclosed that K6.2 billion was released to Dodma, and he gave a breakdown of how the funds were, a development that made Malawians to begin questioning some expenditures.
In a statement dated February 4 2021, signed by HRDC chairperson Gift Trapence and other leaders, the grouping says it has received several queries, concerns and tip-offs from the public bordering on the need for Dodma to explain how it used the funds.
“On January 17 2021, President Lazarus Chakwera told the country, through a televised national address, that his administration had, in August 2020, released K6.2 billion for use by Dodma in combating the pandemic.
“According to the President, the K6.2 billion was used as follows: K60 million on planning meetings; K535 million facilitating the return of Malawians from South Africa; K185 million on public awareness on media platforms; K580 million on border patrols (and) K72 million to support victims of gender-based violence during the pandemic with materials and cash transfers,” reads the statement, which also details other expenditures.
HRDC said while the efforts were good, it was disappointed at the apparent display of Dodma’s failure to account for the resources through giving Malawians a detailed account on how they have spent the resources.
“Equally shocking is the information that in the North, places such as Songwe, Chitipa and several other borders have never had patrols since July 2020. One wonders: What did Dodma do with K580 million it spent on border patrols?” queries HRDC.
The activists remind both Dodma and other public institutions that whatever funds they are entrusted with, it is done so on public trust.
“They hold and use these funds on behalf of the public and it is to the same public that is demanding accountability. As such, driven by the spirit of accountability and transparency and fully aware of the Ombudsman’s damning report on the use of funds by the National Covid-19 Preparedness and Response Plan, HRDC is demanding that Malawi government, through Dodma to provide the nation with a detailed expenditure.
Dodma spokesperson Chipiliro Khamula yesterday said he could only respond to HRDC’s demands after consulting “and the response may not be available today”.