Two members of Parliament (MPs) yesterday demanded the resignation or dismissal of Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda over accountability of K6.2 billion Covid-19 response funds
and general management of the pandemic. Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Mzimba North MP Yeremiah Chihana (Alliance for Democracy) asked President Lazarus Chakwera to fire Chiponda, who is also co-chairperson of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, as he did with her counterpart Dr John Phuka.
Mulanje South West MP George Chaponda (Democratic Progressive Party-DPP) also asked the minister to resign purportedly because many people have died due Covid-19 and that response funds were allegedly mismanaged on her watch.
But Chiponda challenged the two legislators to get their facts right on their reasons for demanding her resignation or dismissal.
In his contribution, Chihana faulted the President for only axing Phuka while leaving behind Chiponda, saying: “You cannot remove one chairperson and leave the other. They both have to go. So, the other chairperson
should also be fired.”
He also claimed that Cabinet ministers could be the ones that made decisions on the K6.2 billion feared to have been mismanaged but were left scot-free while controlling officers and cluster heads were interdicted.
Chaponda’s call for the minister’s resignation saw some MPs on the government side reminding him that he was adamant when people called for his resignation during maizegate which happened on his watch. The courts cleared Chaponda of wrongdoing.
In her response, Chiponda said no Cabinet minister in the Tonse Alliance administration is drawing allowances from the Covid-19 funds.
She said there is an audit in progress and challenged that should the audit establish that she drew allowances from Covid-19 funds, she will be the first to resign.
“I’ am a very honest person. There is an audit taking place. Should it transpire that I pocketed something, I will be the first person to resign,” said Chiponda.
In reaction to the President’s pursuit to enforce accountability for the K6.2 billion Covid-19 response funds, 10 principal secretaries, 28 district commissioners and five chief executive officers of councils have been interdicted pending a forensic audit.
On why Chiponda was spared when firing Phuka, presidential press secretary Brian Banda last week said she will be subjected to a Cabinet assessment.