The civil society organisation (CSO) also demanded the arrest of people suspected to have mismanaged the fund, threatening to hold a protest on 29 April if the suspects were not arrested within seven days.
The CSO also demanded an action plan from President Lazarus Chakwera’s administration on how the money will be recovered.
In 2020, a report by Malawi’s ombudsman investigating how the country’s Covid-19 ‘Coordination Cluster’ utilised its budget of over 320 million Malawian kwacha between March and July 2020 indicated that there had been some financial mismanagement.
The report found that 79.8 percent of the total funding allocated to the cluster was spent on staff allowances or benefits.
It highlighted that this spending was ‘a reflection of misplaced priorities’, and recommended that government allowances be made more realistic, considerate to the country’s economy and clearer to avoid abuses.
‘From the general operations, the report shows just how rotten the government system is. What is apparent from the looting is that we are not dealing with bad apples; we are dealing with a rotten tree’, HRDC Chairperson, Gift Trapence, said at a press conference.
‘What is worrying is that these are the same public officials that are entrusted with public funds, and not only Covid-19 funds.
‘If there were able to loot MK6.2 billion with such reckless abandon, one wonders what they do with the other public funds’.
Trapence proposed the establishment of a special court to deal with the fraud.
‘A quick resolution and prosecution of culprits in this case will send a clear and resolute message to the civil servants on how quick the wheels of justice work’, he said.
Photo source: Direct Relief/CC BY-NC-ND