President Lazarus Chakwera who promised heads will roll and fired the head of the disaster management department and the Presidential taskforce on Covid-19 co-chair, and suspended further officials, over the K6.2 billion Covid-19 response funds feared mismanaged has intensified the crackdown with 10 principal secretaries (PSs), 28 district commissioners (DCs) and five other senior officers interdicted.
Chakwera on Sunday removed Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) commissioner James Chiusiwa alongside Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 co-chairperson Dr John Phuka for purported technical slips.
The PSs or controlling officers suspended are from ministries of Health; Gender, Community Service and Social Welfare; Labour; Education; Homeland Security; Agriculture; Lands; Local Government; and Information.
The presidential press secretary Brian Banda has confirmed the new shake-up, saying the concerned controlling officers and Covid-19 response cluster heads have also been suspended from their substantive positions in the public service.
“They were in these Covid-19 clusters based on their posts and not as individuals,” he said.
Besides the 28 DCs, the interdictions have also extended to chief executive officers for Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba city councils; Kasungu and Luchenza municipal councils and Mangochi Town Council, according to Banda.
When officers appeared before the taskforce with their reports on how they spent 6.2bn kwacha (£5.8m), only one official had properly backed up reports.
Pressure had been mounting on the President to prove how the millions set aside for planning and public awareness, facilitating the return of Malawians from South Africa border patrols and supporting victims of gender-based violence was being spent.
Chakwera said the pandemic called for “strong leadership”.
The Presidet said there will be “ a full forensic audit, which the national audit office has already begun, and a full and independent investigation, which the director of public prosecutions has requested the Malawi Police Service to conduct as a matter of urgency.”
He announced that 100,000 additional doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine secured through the African Union would arrive in Malawi this week for the protection of health workers.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :