Human Rights Defenders Coalition has asked Malawi government through the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) to explain how the K6.2 billion funds meant for Covid-19 pandemic fight was spent, saying it has received several queries , concerns and tip-offs from the general public suggesting plunder.
President Lazarus Chakwera recently disclosed that K6.2 billion was released to Dodma, and he gave a breakdown of how the funds were spent but raised more questions than answers on some expenditures.
HRDC chairperson Gift Trapence and other leaders, said in a statement dated February 4 2021: “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.”
One such expenditure which President Chakwera disclosed as civic education through what he said all media platforms. But Malawi media organisations have feigned ignorance of using any of the Covid-19 funds for adverts or civic education.
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 coalition said it “strong suspect” misappropriation of funds in how the K6.2 billion Covid-19 funds was spent.
HRDC said “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, the coalition is demanding that Malawi government, through Dodma should provide the nation with a detailed expenditure.
Dodma spokesperson Chipiliro Khamula could not immediately comment.