Ombudsman gives directives to Malawi govt for messing up with K6.2bn  Covid-19 funds

Ombudsman Martha Chizuma has made directives and recommendations to be implemented by government following revelations that K6.2 billion Covid-19 funds were abused.

Chizuma according to Chakwera is ‘one of the shining lights of integrity on top of a hill in whose valleys remain the dark shadows of institutional corruption and impunity across the public sector’

The report was released at a news conference in Lilongwe.

The directives and recommendations are contained in a report titled  A Report on an Investigation into  Allegations Concerning Lack of Transparency and  Accountability in the  Implementation of  Malawi’s National COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan.

Chizuma makes the following observations:

1-The opening of separate account for receiving COVID-19 donations by the Ministry of Finance was unjustified and created unnecessary nightmare. Ministry of Finance should have simply played an oversight role concerning the funds in DoDMA account through the Secretary to the Treasury as provided for by law.

2-Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) acted illegally by departing from the conventional tools for price stability as provided for in the RBM Act (2018) to be able to make a MK6.2 billion donation towards the COVID-19 fight.

3-RBM irregularly categorized MK6.2 billion as a Corporate Social Responsibility donation and inappropriately channelled the funds through the Governor’s account instead of the designated Gift and Donations Account.

4-OPC irregularly equated the COVID-19 Response Task Force to a Commission of Inquiry in determining payable allowances.

5-Task Force Co-Chairperson omitted his duty to inform the public that the Task Force started receiving allowances.

6-Task Force Co-Chairperson omitted her duty to put the suspension of the Task Force allowances.

7-Payment of DSAs for more days than the actual days the officers would be genuinely required to work outside their normal duty stations was exploitative and irregular.

8-Procuring obviously price inflated goods and liquidating the same without questioning responsible individuals or without seeking any clarification was a serious omission of duty.

9-Purchasing lunch for officers who were paid full DSAs was irregular.

10-Inviting a colleague who has been paid DSAs at a hotel for meals that have been paid by public funds was highly exploitative.

11-Payment of meal allowance not corresponding with any applicable Government policy to an officer working on full board was irregular.

12Assigning a large number of officers for tasks which could ably be done by few officers was exploitative and irregular.

13-Using a questionable receipt to justify a MK459, 000 payout from public funds without evidence of delivered goods anywhere is akin to fraud.

She has also made the following directives and recommendations:

1-The Task Force Co-Chairpersons should put in writing the suspension of payment of allowances, including reasons behind the suspension and such communication should be made public to satisfy the public’s legitimate interest to know the settlements of the Task Force. (DIRECTIVE).

2-The OPC should develop separate policy guidelines of an allowances regime for taskforces such as the Presidential Taskforce o  COVID-19 and the entitlements should be commensurate with the service to be provided and reasonable taking into account the economy of the country. (DIRECTIVE).

3-The Secretary to the Treasury should close the Covid Relief and Response Account because it is redundant. (DIRECTIVE).

4-DoDMA should publish using radio and newspaper all cash and noncash donations that they received from March to July 2020 and how they were disbursed and utilized. (DIRECTIVE).

5-All participants who were served lunch while they had been paid SDAs during the National Coordination Meeting held in Mponela from 9th to 11th July 2020 should refund the costs of the lunch. (DIRECTIVE).

6-The officer who invited another officer for meals using public funds should refund the costs of the meals and the money should be deposited into the Disaster Management Account. (DIRECTIVE).

7-DoDMA should discipline an officer who was responsible for procurement of Butex soap at MK995.00 and make sure that in future there are mechanisms to detect instances of bloated prices and responsible officers are held accountable. (DIRECTIVE).

8-An officer who was paid incidental allowances above his entitlement must refund the excess amount into DoDMA account. (DIRECTIVE).

9-The officer who last handled MK500, 000 meant for cleaning materials for Machinga DHO for reception of the returnees in the June 2020 should pay back the money. (DIRECTIVE).

10-The RBM should establish mechanisms for desisting from breaking its own Laws should a similar situation arise in future. (RECOMMENDATION).

11-Spending 79.8% of the total funding for the Cordination Cluster on allowances is a reflection of misplaced priorities. The OPC should comprehensively review the government allowances policies by making them more realistic, considerate to country’s economy and clearer to avoid abuses. (RECOMMENDATION).

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Mapwisi
2 months ago

So how do you think people will work in the field or outside duty station without allowances? Do you know that Allowances are cheaper than full or half board galu iwe chizuma?

MCP Diehard
MCP Diehard
2 months ago
Reply to  Mapwisi

Sadziwa. Ndi ma lova who have never worked anywhere. Public and private companies both doll out allowances. You can’t abolish them altogether. Just need monitoring to prevent abuse

New Dawn
New Dawn
2 months ago
Reply to  Mapwisi

Yes it may seem that way however the Ombudsman is not saying no allowances , insstead our Ombudsman is saying stop to exploitation and return what was not allowable to be spent on meals etc. Also no inflated pricing “bloated prices”. God Bless Martha Chizuma.

Babay
2 months ago
Reply to  Mapwisi

Wokuba iwe…

Kagwa
Kagwa
2 months ago

Mayo mayo ineee, BIYUTEKISI mpakana K995.00?!!!! Eish m’chiyani kodi a Malawi???

laws
laws
2 months ago

This is disaster,what a mess if Butex soap was priced at MK995 instead of MK390(assuming) the difference of Mk605 per tablet of soap.If 5000 tablets were bought then a whopping MK3,0250,000.00 went into the drain on Butex soap only.OHHH!

Thongo
Thongo
2 months ago

I don’t understand this report, this is not applicable to the 6.2 billion allegedly to have been misappropriated. Mwina i need to be schooled.

WO Chakwera
WO Chakwera
2 months ago

According to my understanding it shows that every one in the taskforce received allowances. Minister of information and minister of Health both must pay back the allowances and removed from there position.

Ndafera Nkhande
Ndafera Nkhande
2 months ago

Bravo madam Chizuma for your love of Malawi.This shows the weakness in our society where by when God gives us status we become statues and leave our duties to donkey workers.Surely it is not proper for a mature person to invite friends for lunch on money assigned for COVID 19.We have time and again commented on the appointments of friends or relatives and this is these are results.How can the reserve bank make such errors? Late Dr Banda did not mince words on the failure of our much tooted economists.

Zio ine
Zio ine
2 months ago

Why isnChiponda Kameodo being wpred from the chop.shen0r3aides and participated in this pilfrage. Chakwea wants to protect his cronies. Can the Martha Chizuma make a determination on the celebration money for the independence celebration which was cancelled.

Anzanufe
Anzanufe
2 months ago

Shallow report indeed. No plans to deter other would be offenders. Clearly, lack of leadership

Mphingire
Mphingire
2 months ago
Reply to  Anzanufe

mmmh its interesting how airheads are sporadically distributed among us so that one pops every single damn day!

APM
APM
2 months ago
Reply to  Anzanufe

Are you sure that returning an allowance which you gourmandized a year ago is not a lesson enuff 4 you?
What of returning a cost of a meal you ate at a hotel without plans….
simple but painful measures…

Ashooo loving the Hammurabi laws
just make sure they pay in full and fast

Dr Chiweza
Dr Chiweza
2 months ago

Question Mzumara, this article is misleading Malawians. You are talking about 6.2 billion but the report you are referring to was released last year in November and covered March to July 2020. The report was about the implementation of the COVID Response plan. Martha Chizumas report is important as it raises issues that have a bearing on the present case but she has not done any assessment on the matter under discussion now. Nyasatimes this is not fair to mislead innocent Malawians and cause them to comment hastily. Nafenso owerenga tizitsatira nkhanizi tisanachite comment. Be professional!

Vultures 💣
2 months ago
Reply to  Dr Chiweza

Dr. Chiweza, indeed I heard about yhis report sometime back and today I am wondering what’s new and special in this ‘old’ report in February 2021! Or is it now ‘Martha for President!’

Mozie Jimmy a.k.a expert wa apumbwa
Mozie Jimmy a.k.a expert wa apumbwa
2 months ago
Reply to  Dr Chiweza

Kkkkk nzolekana indeed! Kkkk poteto/potato.
But she highlighted one big isue (spending the whole 79.8% on allowances)
# malawi okomela okhawo kkkkk okwantere.

Matt
Matt
2 months ago

I read the Ombudsman’s directives with that passion as one would expect him en how hot and temperamental the issue has become.
I respect madam Ombudsman for setting up such guidelines to avoid a recurrence of the same in future,plus holding those directly responsible to account for their misdeeds…how can one invite another person to a meeting…
Thank you Madam Ombudsman…
We as a nation need your Office now than ever.
Thank you Madam

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