New system to track COVID-19 donations

LOCAL civil society organisations have devised a tracking system to account for the US$419 million donated so far towards fighting COVID-19 in Zimbabwe.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

The COVID-19 resources tracker administered by the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) was set up to try and expose misuse of the donations.

The tracker can be accessed through the Zimcodd website and it follows up all donations and allocations towards combating the pandemic in the country to see if they were used properly, as well as allow whistleblowers to ring bells whenever there is suspected abuse of resources.

The development comes at a time there are reports of massive abuse of COVID-19 resources with the most high-profile case being that of fired Health minister Obadiah Moyo who was implicated in a US$60 million tender scam involving Delish Nguwaya’s Drax International.

Zimcodd programmes manager John Maketo on Friday told delegates during a social accountability training programme on utilisation of resources in the health sector that the COVID-19 resources tracker monitored distributions of the donations.
“Expenditure tracking looks at how the donations and government allocated funds have been utilised; whether they were used for their intended purposes, and if the intended products were acquired and distributed,” Maketo said.
“In a democracy, we citizens have a right to know how much has been donated and what it has been used for. There is need for people power in terms of whistleblowing because what happened which resulted in the arrest of Moyo was a clear result of pressure by citizens,” he said.
Maketo said with legislators now concentrating on partisan fights and being compromised by the whipping system in Parliament, citizens must take action and fight corruption in the use of public funds meant for COVID-19.
The Public Service Accountability Monitor senior programmes officer Rachel Gondo said government was mandated through the Constitution to account for the donated resources.

“Government needs to do a needs analysis to find out the health requirements of citizens and ensure effective implementation of the budget. Whenever government spends, there must be an expenditure plan.
“Our systems, laws, regulations and the members of the public should ensure that any public official uses public finances in the interests of the public through codes of conduct because COVID-19 has laid bare our inefficiencies in the health system,” Gondo said.

She said government should consistently post on its website how much has been received and spent.

Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust (Sapst) programme specialist on parliamentary procedure and processes Henry Ndlovu said in emergencies like COVID-19, Parliament should not abrogate its oversight role on the Executive, adding that civil society and citizens must demand explanations from the State on how public finances are utilised.

“Civil society also needs to engage in evidence-based advocacy in order to produce irrefutable arguments to government and Parliament. Citizens can also petition Parliament to ensure the Public Accounts Committee instructs the Auditor-General to audit COVID-19 funds,” he said.

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