HRDC to conduct demos over abuse of Covid-19 funds

Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has demanded the arrest of people suspected to have abused Covid-19 funds, saying it will hold anti-government demonstrations on April 29 if the suspects are not arrested within seven days.

The organisation has also demanded an action plan from the Lazarus Chakwera administration on how the money will be recovered.

Chairperson of the grouping Gift Trapence said this at a press briefing on Friday in Lilongwe.

Trapence said President Lazarus Chakwera owes the nation an explanation on the emerging issues surrounding misprocurement in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) and how these will be addressed.

He demanded 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 to take its course.

“We demand that practices that are criminal in nature should be taken over by the law enforcement authorities for prosecution.

“The audit report clears 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,” he said.

He also noted that, although the Malawi Police Service and Malawi Defence Force both received substantial amounts from the Covid-19 fund, both institutions are conspicuously missing from the audit report.

He said their absence from the report raises more questions than answers because it is clearly that those institutions used their money.

On prosecution of suspects, 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. Otherwise, we will have a scenario such as the Cashgate cases where, eight years down the line, some cases have yet to be tried. This makes a mockery of the justice system,” he explained

He added that HRDC and Malawians will not be spectators and watch as public funds are abused but they will make sure that every tambala is accounted and paid back.

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