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Refund money or face protests—HRDC

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The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has asked government to ensure that all those involved in the plunder of the K6.2 billion Covid-19 funds refund the money in seven days or face mass protests.

HRDC has also asked President Chakwera to explain the K97 million expenditure which was used to fumigate government buildings, as captured in the Audit report.

This comes as the forensic Audit report by the Auditor General on the K6.2 billion meant for Covid-19 response has also recommended that all implicated officers should pay back the funds.

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Speaking when briefing journalists in Lilongwe, HRDC Chairperson Gift Trapence said they are ready to demonstrate against what he described as thieves.

“As per the National Audit Office’s recommendations, we demand that the culprits pay back the money.

We are giving the government seven days to arrest the suspected culprits and to give us an action plan on how the money will be recovered,” he said.

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The HRDC chairperson threatened to mobilise Malawians to hold mass demonstrations across the country on April 29 2021 if their demands were not met.

HRDC member, Billy Mayaya, said the President owes Malawians an explanation on the emerging issues surrounding misprocurement in the Office of the President and Cabinet and how these would be addressed.

“We demand the interdiction of senior controlling officers in government, including some at the OPC and even those at local district councils, to allow the rule of law take its cause,” he said.

Another member, Beatrice Mateyu, said the malpractices by civil servants are criminal in nature and they should be prosecuted.

“The audit report clearly states the names of the people that abused the funds and we will be closely watching this process to ensure that no culprit is spared,” she said.

HRDC also wondered why the Malawi Police Service (MPS) and Malawi Defence Force (MDF), despite receiving substantial amounts from the Covid-19 funds, are conspicuously missing from the audit report.

HRDC said the absence of the two security organs from the report raises more questions than answers.

The coalition has, therefore, demanded the establishment of a special court to deal with the fraud.

Minister of information Gospel Kazako said the audit was not initiated by the HRDC but the government.

He therefore said  it is unfair for HRDC to push the government.

“All the culprits will be dealt with in line with the law. Government will not back anyone who is implicated in this audit report,” Kazako said.

He said government has already interdicted some of the civil servants who were implicated in the plunder of the Covid-19 money.

“This shows how committed the government is to clear the rubble in the civil service,” Kazako said.

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