State-funded human rights watchdog, the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC), has demanded a thorough and transparent audit of the K6.2 billion Covid-19 funds feared to misappropriated by public officers.
The Commission’s Executive Secretary, Habiba Osman, says this is critical in ensuring that rights were not and are not being unnecessarily violated due to abuse of public funds released for the sole purpose of fighting Covid-19 and thus saving lives.
Osman makes the sentiments in a statement issued Saturday for public consumption.
She says the Commission demands that every kwacha of those funds be transparently accounted for to the public without delay, stressing that this is imperative in restoring trust and confidence in the public on how the funds were expended and how the remaining funds will be used to fight the virus.
The virus has already caused a great number of fatalities in the country, particularly, for those working in the frontlines and Osman emphasizes that no one should be left behind in the fight, hence the need for transparency and accountability.
“We wish to remind the nation that on 19th January, 2021, the Human Rights Commission made an appeal for a renewed holistic response and recovery to the second wave of Covid-19 to ensure a lasting solution, including adherence to the principles of good governance (rule of law, respect for human rights, transparency, responsiveness, and accountability). The Commission continues to believe and is convinced that for this to be effective, a decisive and inclusive leadership is strongly required. However, the recent revelations of the alleged abuse of the K6.2 billion, Treasury released in August, 2020 are unacceptable and a cause for great concern,” reads the statement in part.
The statement says it is pleasing to note that President Lazarus Chakwera has recently addressed this pertinent matter by issuing orders to controlling officers or cluster heads to account for the K6.2 billion, which was released for the Covid-19 fight. The Commission supports this stance which the President has taken.
However, the Commission has called upon the government to expeditiously act on the questions and concerns that have arisen and continue to arise on the K6.2 billion Government released for the Covid-19 fight.
“The Commission looks forward to thorough and timely findings of such accounts and the decisive actions that shall be taken when irregularities are found. Where the audit finds that funds were abused in the expenditure of the K6.2 billion, the Commission demands the expeditious prosecution of all culprits as per the Laws of Malawi,” emphasizes Osman.
She further recommends that an oversight body or bodies need to be equipped to monitor the usage of the Covid-19 funds, including citizen-generated funds that will be needed for addressing the pandemic at all levels, as it notes that the Taskforce has failed to deliver on the President’s directive of complying with 48 hour’s directive.
“The Commission reiterates one of its recommendations made in its statement of 19th January, 2021, that government should ensure maximum accountability on Covid-19 funds. Government should learn and act on the observations and recommendations that other governance bodies and stakeholders made on usage of Covid-19 funds to the previous government,” concludes Osman.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :