May 18, 2021

MHRC Calls for Another Audit of Covid-19 funds

The Malawi Human Rights Commission [the Commission] has called upon Government to fund another audit to vigorously and comprehensively investigate other Covid-19 funds beyond the MK 6.2 Billion Covid-19 funds.

The MHRC has asked Government to strengthen preventive control to avoid recurrence in the plunder of public resources and for it to fully implement auditor’s recommendations with the specified period by National Audit Office.

The Commission is asking Government to review the terms of Reference of the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 in the context of its failures to provide oversight on Covid-19 funds management particularly on procurement of personal protective equipment [PPEs].

In a statement dated 30th April 2021 signed by its Executive Secretary, Habiba Osman, the Commission says it further agrees with those who hold the view that a holistic approach to ridding off this vice of abuse and mismanagement of public resources is the best course of action if they are to have a lasting solution to the problem.

The Commission says it is welcoming the National Audit Office Report on the usage and accountability of the MK6.2 Billion Covid-19 funds disbursement, saying the Commission is applauding the post-audit report government actions, saying the firing of a cabinet minister, the arrest of 64 people implicated in the report and the interdiction of some controlling officers, are signals of some progress towards  addressing the recommendations raised in the audit report.

It says while it is acknowledging this urgent action-oriented response to the report, it observes that the approach government has used in dealing with the plunder of Covid-19 resources has not been holistic.

The Commission is therefore calling on government to adopt a broader approach to addressing this plunder by amongst other things funding another audit to vigorously and comprehensively investigate the other Covid-19 funds beyond the MK6.2 Billion.

…”The Commission welcomes government’s move to interdict officers implicated by the Audit report, there is need for government to adhere to existing legislation on interdiction of officers as well as principles of natural justice…,’’ reads the statement in part.

The Commission adds it is beamons the failure by the Education cluster to utilize some funds for Covid-19 due to unnecessary man-made logistical challenges faulting government’s failure to honour its pledge of supporting National Audit Office to conduct quarterly audits.

The MHRC is commending government for the direction they have taken in addressing issues of public resource plunder saying it is committing to its continued support to government in monitoring the process on the implementation of the recommendations from the Audit reporting line with its mandate.

By Vincent Gunde

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