In our collection of letters from African journalists, Waihiga Mwaura writes from Kenya about considerations that cash put aside for the battle towards coronavirus is being misspent.
The hashtag #Cash Heist has been trending on Twitter in Kenya in current days – not due to the Netflix collection which featured a memorable character referred to as Nairobi however due to a controversial report offered by Well being Secretary Mutahi Kagwe to parliament.
The report was a breakdown of how 1.3bn Kenyan shillings ($12.2m; £9.8m), principally donated by the World Financial institution, was used within the battle towards the coronavirus pandemic.
What caught the eye of the parliamentary committee and Kenyans at massive was the price of a number of the gadgets procured or leased.
It confirmed that 42m shillings was used to lease ambulances, 4m shillings went on tea and snacks, and 70m shillings on communication.
Kenya’s vibrant on-line group instantly started to query a number of the bills.
Why lease 15 ambulances at that quantity as an alternative of simply buying new ambulances or utilizing the present fleet?
Why allocate 2m shillings for cell phone airtime when telecommunications firm Safaricom had provided officers concerned within the battle towards the virus a free bundle?
Had the airtime beforehand allotted to the well being ministry for the 2019/2020 monetary yr already been exhausted?
Why was 70m shillings allotted for communication, allowing for that media homes had already contributed to airtime for coronavirus-related information updates?
The questions turned all of the pertinent amid studies that the lockdown meant to curb the unfold of the virus had worsened poverty, even forcing a mother to cook stones to make her eight children believe she was preparing food for them.
Granted there have been a number of Kenyans on-line, resembling Ted Ed who, citing his finance background, justified the expenditure, saying he was confident that any audit would give the government “a clean bill of health”.
Nonetheless, the harm was executed and the federal government was pressured to defend itself. President Uhuru Kenyatta denied that any cash had been misappropriated or stolen, whereas Mr Kagwe dismissed the allegations as “propaganda”.
Official’s tweet deleted
However shortly thereafter Mr Kagwe carried out a reshuffle in his ministry, transferring 30 senior procurement and accounting officers, in response to Kenya’s main Every day Nation newspaper.
Was this an already scheduled reshuffle or was it a response to the hue and cry over the expenditure?
What confused many was that essentially the most senior civil servant within the ministry, Susan Mochache, tweeted an announcement saying that they’d not obtained the “full quantity of 1 billion kshs from the World Financial institution and no cash had been spent in any respect”. The tweet with these particulars was hurriedly deleted.
So why did the ministry current a report back to parliament with a column entitled “funds used”?
Auditor-general’s submit left empty
It’s attainable that no cash has been misplaced however at least there’s a lack of correct co-ordination throughout the ministry on the forefront of the battle towards Covid-19.
Kenyans are frightened as a result of the ministry isn’t any stranger to controversy – the auditor-general couldn’t account for 10.9bn shillings allotted to the ministry within the 2017/18 monetary yr and the same quantity within the 2015/16 monetary yr.
Anti-corruption watchdog Transparency Worldwide Kenya has waded into the controversy, calling for higher transparency and accountability of Covid-19 funds.
However the issue is that the submit of auditor-general stays vacant 9 months after its earlier occupant retired.
It’s not simply in Kenya the place there was a hue and cry over cash allotted to battle Covid-19.
We will sick afford a corruption pandemic on prime of a well being pandemic.”
Throughout the border in Uganda, the Excessive Courtroom ordered MPs handy again $5,000 (about £4,000) given to every of them to battle coronavirus of their constituencies.
The MPs had allotted themselves about $2.6m in complete to boost public consciousness about Covid-19.
Their transfer was extensively condemned, with President Yoweri Museveni describing it as “morally reprehensible”.
In South Africa, the federal government is below strain from the principle opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) to clarify how 37 million rand ($2,000; £1,600) might be spent on a 40km (25 mile) border fence to maintain individuals with coronavirus out.
Photos circulating on-line present that the razor wire fence has already been minimize by way of, and the DA has described it as a “washing line”.
In the meantime, nearly 100 civil society organizations from around the world have written to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) urging it to incorporate anti-corruption measures for emergency funding given to governments whose economies are reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The IMF has already authorised virtually $15bn to greater than 65 nations and is contemplating requests from not less than one other two dozen.
Transparency Worldwide has issued a well timed reminder that about $6m was lost to corruption in Guinea and Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak from 2014 to 2016.
With social distancing guidelines and restrictions on gatherings, will probably be tougher for parliamentary watchdog committees to scrutinise Covid-19 spending.
Nevertheless, we are able to sick afford a corruption pandemic on prime of a well being pandemic. So, allow us to hope that every penny is spent properly.
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— to www.bbc.com