By Deogratias Mmana
As calls for action continue getting louder, the forensic audit report by the country’s Auditor General on K6.2 billion meant for Covid-19 has spilled beans on how district councils diverted funds to personal allowances and other uses.
In Salima, directors were paid K360,000 as sitting allowances despite them not being members of the council. This was for an emergency council meeting on August 24, 2020, January 14 2021 and February 16, 2021.
Balaka District Council paid subsistence allowances amounting to K879,000 to personnel within duty station. This was when they were carrying out recruitment of health workers in the fight against Covid-19.
This was contrary to circular No. DPSM/ ALL/01/08 dated November 12, 2020 which states that; if officers travelling to work outside their duty stations will not have an overnight stay, they should be provided with meal allowances.
In Dedza, there was an overpayment of K304,000 lunch allowances. The council organised an activity to facilitate supervision of people complying with Covid guidelines for 11 days but some officers received allowances for additional seven days.
In Ntcheu, there was an irregular payment of K624,000 lunch allowances. The report shows K504,000 being claimed for participants’ allowances for a three day meeting when the meeting actually took place in one day. The participants received K168,000 leaving a balance of K336,000.
In addition, the council’s officers received nine days’ allowance amounting to K324,000 for the same one day training instead of K36,000; making a difference of K288,000.
Chitipa District Council paid K4,115,000.00 allowances within duty station. Further, K912,512.00 was spent on full council meeting whose agenda was not Covid-19.
Likoma was also caught in the mess as it paid out K900,000 subsistence allowance within duty station.
At Mzuzu City council, K3,229,015 was spent on procurement of cement, quarry stones, river sand, fuel for construction of Chiputula market. It was also used to pay wages for labourers and supervisors during the construction of Katawa Market.
Further, the council paid K808,000 risk allowances during the process of implementing some of the council’s activities.
At Thyolo District Council, K1 million payment was not produced for audit. The money was paid to three suppliers: Ulumba; C Kapembe F/S and Lydia Investment. They supplied body spray disinfectant machine, cyclone chalane, fuel and airtime respectively.
The also failed to account for K5,397,766 and further had under-liquidation expenditure of K108,000. It also paid K1,759,000 allowances to officers without evidence of attendance for a meeting.
At Zomba District Council, K1,634,000 subsistence allowance was paid instead of lunch allowances to officers.
The council also failed to account for K2,918,470 fuel.
At Zomba City Council, K5,385,000 was used on duty allowances instead of Covid activities as there was no basis for payments of the duty allowances. The council did not account for K157,279.
Machinga district council failed to produce bidding documents and evaluation reports for K7,559,016.
Just like almost all Ministries, Departments and Agencies, the council used Request For Quotation method instead of Open Tendering procurement method for K8,792,168.42 goods and services. It also had inconsistencies in allowance payment.
Chiradzulu council was also caught in K94,000 subsistence allowance payment instead of lunch allowances to officers. It also had overpayment of lunch allowances amounting to K359,000 and further untraceable K9,998,972 for stores items.
Mangochi District Council had unliquidated fuel for K1,895,849.
Fuel refunds amounting to K2,279,833.80 were without supporting receipts at Lilongwe City Council. There is also an unexplained excess cash amounting to K278,000.
There was wasteful and ineligible expenditure of K665,000 at Mulanje District Council for a meeting said to have taken place at Upstairs Lodge at Luchenza where it also shows that the lodge was not paid.
At Blantyre District Council, there was an irregular procurement of disinfection services at K3,110,000 to Niya Enterprises. The company was found to have won the contract by tricks, according to the report.
There was also procurement at exorbitant prices to the tune of K4,176,500. The council procured safety items for its fire department as one way of preventing the spread of Covid-19 among its staff.
These included 54 single sleeping mattresses, 73 blankets and 73 mosquito nets which were exorbitantly charged without any justification.
The officers also diverted materials worth K7,192,500 to personal use and the items included 54 single mattresses, 73 mosquito nets, 72 blankets and 71 mosquito nets which were bought for the fire department.
In Chikwawa, the council diverted K155,946 for other recurrent transactions.
Nsanje District Council failed to use K24,124,460 for planned Covid activities.
The report has made several recommendations among that officers who took part in the malpractices which resulted in the loss of funds should be made to pay back and that all malpractices criminal in nature should be prosecuted.