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MHRC demands Covid funds probe

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By Yohane Simon

The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has urged the government to holistically investigate the alleged plunder of K6.2 billion Covid-19 response fund.

The MHRC says there is need to establish if the alleged abuses does not interfere with human rights of the people who are expected to be supported from the fund.

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The Commission, through its Executive Secretary Habiba Osman, has also challenged the Lazarus Chakwera administration to quickly act on the questions that have arisen in regards to the way the fund, which were released in August last year were used.

“The recent revelations of the alleged abuse of the K6.2 billion, Treasury released in August, 2020 are unacceptable and a cause for great concern,” reads in part the MHRC statement released on Saturday and signed by Osman.

MHRC commends President Chakwera for recently addressing this matter by issuing orders to controlling officers or cluster heads to account for the K6.2 billion. It says it supports this stance which the President has taken.

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“However, the Commission strongly calls on Government to expeditiously act on the questions and concerns that have arisen and continue to arise on the K6.2 billion Government released for the Covid-19 fight.

“The Commission looks forward to thorough and timely findings of such accounts and the decisive actions that shall be taken,” Osman said.

MHRC further demands full accountability of funds which are being collected by both government and other private citizen initiatives that are responding to the fight against Covid-19.

“The Commission strongly recommends that an oversight body or bodies need to be equipped to monitor the usage of the Covid-19 funds, including citizen-generated funds that will be needed for addressing the pandemic at all levels, as we note that the Taskforce has failed to deliver on the President’s directive of complying with 48 hours directive,” Osman said.

It demands that every kwacha of those funds be transparently accounted for to the public without delay.

“This will restore trust and confidence in the public, on how the funds were expended and how the remaining funds will be used to fight the virus which has already caused a great number of fatalities in the country, particularly, for those working in the frontlines. No one should be left behind in this fight, hence the need for transparency and accountability,” says MHRC.

It says where the audit finds that funds were abused; there should be swift prosecution of all culprits according to the Laws of Malawi.

The commission further urges the government to learn and act on the observations and recommendations that other governance bodies and stakeholders made on usage of Covid-19 funds to the previous government.

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