Explain How You Spent K6.2Bln COVID-19 Funds, Rights Group Tells Malawi Government

The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has asked the Malawi government to explain in details how it disbursed the K6.2 billion funds meant for Covid-19 pandemic fight.

The group, in its demands sent through the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma), said it had received several queries, concerns and tip-offs from the public suggesting misappropriation.

Malawi’s President, Lazarus Chakwera, had recently given a breakdown of how K6.2 billion released of Dodma was spent. However, his explanations raised more questions on the expenditures.

In a statement recently, the HRDC chairperson, Gift Trapence, and other leaders, said: “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.”

HRDC said while the efforts were good, it was disappointed that Dodma failed to give 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?” the statement read.

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.

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