BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)—A message has been sent to the Malawi Vice President Saulos Klaus Chilima that his recent back-to-back reform meetings with public officers were just a waste of time as reports indicate that Covid-19 funds went into district councils’ officials pockets.
A leaked expenditure report has revealed that in district councils a lion’s share of the allocated funds for Covid-19 response was shared among top council officials in form of subsistence allowances.
According to Times, council officials shared 39 percent of the total K1.3 billion which Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) disbursed to district councils and Mzuzu and Kamuzu Central hospitals as at 31 January 2021.
The shocking revelations comes at time health workers are demanding personal protective equipment.
It is reported that procurement of personal protective equipment and related goods and services have only enjoyed 11 percent share each of the total expenditure, with fuel getting 9%.
The consolidated financial report by the National Local Government Finance Committee shows that councils had spent 79 percent of the total funding they were allocated as at January 31, 2021 Among the major culprit councils are Chitipa, Salima, Kasungu, Likoma and Machinga who have spent zero tambala on PPEs but had a field day on allowances.
This is while healthcare workers across the country have been complaining about critical shortage of PPEs for their work.
According to the report, Chitipa has spent K22 million on risk, lunch and subsistence allowances for officials while Kasungu, Likoma, Machinga and Salima have spent K8 million, K10 million, K30 million and K4 million respectively.
Machinga tops the list of the reckless as it spent nothing on PPEs, nothing on goods and services but K30 million on allowances, which is 50 percent of the K60 million allocated to it.
Among other big spenders on allowances are Blantyre which has spent K59 million out of K85 million allocated to it and Lilongwe District Council which has spent K42 million out of the K85 million it was allocated.
The revelations come on the background of an investigation by the Ombudsman on Covid-19 expenditures in the period between March and July 2020.
In the investigation, the Ombudsman found massive abuse and mismanagement of Covid funds at Dodma and other government agencies. The Ombudsman report questioned the allowance culture where 79.8 percent of the funds allocated to Dodma was spent on allowances of officials.
Reacting, Minister of Information Gospel Kazako told the local media that government is dealing with all the cases in totality.
“We are dealing with all abuses with sum total approach and finality. All the issues are being scrutinised,” he said as quoted in the Times, Sunday edition.
“This is a very momentous time for our nation when Malawians have declared participation and interest in how their resources are being used. We are motivated and encouraged as this will form part of the apparatus to retrieve this nation from thievery and blatant abuse of public resources,” he added.
Kazako said the moment gives Malawi an opportunity to recalibrate the way the nation looks at and use public resources in government.
All this is happening under the leadership of Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima, a pair that won last year’s election with a promise to end corruption in government departments.
Malawians have already lost hope following President Chakwera’s recent sentiments that “the promises were made on assumptions and conditions that no longer hold.”
Legal expert Danwood Chirwa lambasted Chakwera on Friday for being inactive and docile.
Chirwa opined that Chakwera might be a beneficiary of the current K6.2 billion corruption scandal considering his silence on the matter.
As Malawians are pondering on such burning issues, the Vice President Chilima is nowhere to be seen.