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TI-Z calls for prosecution of officers who plundered Covid funds

• Office of the Auditor General conducted an audit of the utilization of COVID-19 resources for the period July 2020 to October 2021.
• As at 31st October 2021, the DMMU had accumulated debt in amounts totaling K394.7 million from procurement of face masks.
• Those who participated in the plunder of public resources meant for fighting Covid-19 should be investigated and prosecuted.

Transparency International Zambia (TI-Z) has called on government to ensure that people who plundered Covid-19 funds are investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, as the pandemic has been used as an opportunity to abuse public resources.
Speaking at a media briefing in commemoration of the African Union (AU) Anti -Corruption Day, TI-Z Chapter President Sampa Kalungu said the Organization analyzed the Audit Report carried out by the Office of the Auditor General on utilization of Covid-19 funds for the period July 2020 to October 2021 and noted more than K793.3 million worth of outstanding audit issues related to management of the resources under Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU).
Mr. Kalungu stated that according to the Audit Report, it was discovered that the DMMU did not provide documentation such as request for quotations used in the evaluation for 21 shortlisted suppliers who were given contracts in the sum of K224.5 million among other anomalies.
He noted that the Audit Report also revealed that the DMMU engaged suppliers of re-usable face masks costing K50.5 million without any competition.
“As at 31st October 2021, the DMMU had accumulated debt in amounts totaling K394.7 million from the procurement of face masks due to the failure to confirm availability of funds before contract award.
“Perhaps the most shocking revelation was that contracts amounting to K63.1 million were awarded to suppliers whose names and nature of business did not relate to medical supplies and there was no evidence that the suppliers had dealt with DMMU before on similar products and or had experience in the supply of such medical supplies,” Mr. Kalungu noted.
With regards to Ministry of Health, Mr. Kalungu said the organization further noted that there was a total of K1.98 billion worth of outstanding audit issues, with respect to COVID-19 funds.
He also observed that there was lack of transparency in the manner in which the Ministry selected 34 suppliers that received the Requests for Quotations and were later awarded 79 contracts worth K1.32 billion, resulting in unfair and uncompetitive procurements costing K136.7 million.
“Out of the same suppliers issued with Requests for Quotations, 6 suppliers with a contract sum of K344.9 million had names and nature of business which did not relate to medical supplies and there was no evidence that the suppliers had dealt with the Ministry before on similar products. A scrutiny of the various bids submitted revealed that the Ministry had engaged in cover bidding. Furthermore, it was also discovered that stores items costing K52.9 million were unaccounted for in that there were no receipts and disposal details. ”
He stressed the need for the new administration to actualize its promises on taking the Auditor General’s report seriously.
And TIZ Programs Manager Raymond Mutale observed that there has been notable progress in the fight against corruption in the country.
Mr. Mutale however called on government to fully resource law enforcement agencies for them to undertake anti-corruption activities effectively.
This year’s African Union (AU) Anti-Corruption Day, which falls on the 11th of July annually, is being commemorated under the theme; “Strategies and Mechanisms for the Transparent Management of Covid-19 Funds”.

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