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Calls for transparency on COVID-19 funds grow louder

by Staff reporter
06 May 2020 at 07:58hrs | Views
COVID-19 provincial taskforces set up to help slow down the spread of the deadly pandemic have been warned against abusing funds allocated to them by government or under-reporting issues needing financial support, as calls for accountability grow louder.

Local Government ministry secretary Zvinechimwe Churu, who was touring Gweru Provincial Hospital, yesterday told journalists that coronavirus resources should be used efficiently.

"What I mentioned (to members of the Midlands COVID-19 provincial taskforce) is that in certain areas (facing financial challenges) which were being mentioned by our colleagues from this province is that there are actually resources which were allocated to them," he said.

"We know that resources can never be enough but they should be used efficiently and well-coordinated. Our plea to provincial teams is that they should bring to our attention all areas that need funding because sometimes there are situations where funds are there but the issues needing funding are not brought to our attention."

Districts across the country are battling with challenges such as quarantine facilities and personal protective equipment for health workers as well as test kits.

However, Churu said in most cases government would be unaware of the issues due to poor communication by taskforces.

Midlands has so far received about $2 million from Treasury to fight the coronavirus. The provincial taskforce has since directed local authorities including Gweru, Shurugwi, Zvishavane and Kwekwe to come up with COVID-19 budgets.

Meanwhile, non-governmental organisation, ActionAid Zimbabwe (AAZ) has called on the government to ensure transparency in the disbursement of and accountability for COVID-19 resources.

In a statement on Monday, AAZ said: "AAZ reaffirms its solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe and in particular people living in poverty and marginalised groups as we fight to overcome the pandemic together. In the same spirit that the GoZ (government of Zimbabwe), development agencies and philanthropists have publicly announced and pledged their support to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, there is need to ensure that these funds and resources are accounted for and used sensibly.

"Considering the above, AAZ implores the GoZ to uphold principles of transparency and accountability through providing timely and relevant information related to the allocation and use of resources as the nation responds to the coronavirus pandemic."

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said he had ring-fenced the 2% intermediated money transfer tax for social protection and capital development projects, and proceeds from the tax will be channelled towards COVID-19-related mitigatory expenditure.

He also set aside $600 million as financial support over three months ($200 million a month) for small businesses and one million vulnerable people affected by the lockdown .

Government also received donations in cash and kind from local and international partners, individuals and organisations to fight the scourge.

AAZ demanded transparency in all funds given to government for the purpose of fighting COVID-19.

Source - newsday

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