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DPP orders criminal probe into covid funds

Steven Kayuni

Martha Chizuma

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Steven Kayuni has written Police Inspector General (IG) George Kainja, asking him to kick-start criminal investigations into the abuse of Covid funds, based on last year’s Office of the Ombudsman report.

This will be the forth investigation into the matter, which has attracted public attention, with many suspecting that a good chunk of money was abused.

The criminal probe comes at a time the Presidential Taskforce on Covid (PTC) is scrutinising expenditure reports submitted by Covid clusters.

It also comes at a time the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (Pac) has directed that the Auditor General conduct a quick audit of the funds and come up with a report within seven days, starting from Tuesday.

Kayuni, in an interview Wednesday, confirmed writing the IG on the issue of criminal investigations.

He parried aside suggestions that the latest activity would duplicate efforts being made by Pac and PTC.

“We are not duplicating efforts. Actually, it is complementary to His Excellency’s Presidential Taskforce on Covid initiative and processes of scrutiny of expenditure reports from different clusters,” Kayuni said.

In her report, titled ‘Misplaced Priorities’, Ombudsman Martha Chizuma revealed grave maladministration of funds by the Coordination Cluster of the Presidential Taskforce— which consists of the Office of the President and Cabinet and the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma).

According to the report, the cluster used 79.8 percent of its allocation of K322,659,196 for allowances, telephone charges and what the report described as “unnecessary” payments.

Chizuma wondered why Dodma authorised that money from its cluster’s allocation be used for allowances only and whether the coordination cluster understood the purpose of the Covid Fund, which was financed by local and international public and private institutions.

On Sunday night, President Lazarus Chakwera described as “completely unacceptable” the conduct of some cluster heads and controlling officers who were yet to submit expenditure reports of the K6.2 billion released in August last year.

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