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Calls For Transparent Use of COVID-19 Funds

Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD) has called on government to put in place mechanisms to ensure transparent and accountable use of funds donated towards the fight against Coronavirus.

ZIMCODD hosted a virtual Public Finance Management Reform Indaba, where concerns were raised over government’s track record of profligacy and lack of accountability in spending public resources.

The Indaba brought together various stakeholders from the civic society, Parliamentarians, Trade Unionists and local activists which sought answers from relevant authorities regarding Zimbabwe’s public finance expenditure on the pandemic.

ZIMCODD noted that “clear rules and institutional arrangements for planning, mobilizing, appropriating, and executing financial resources to support disasters and pandemics, and recovery are key.

“With the immense procurement taking place due to the pandemic, public procurement should remain transparent, accountable and grounded in participatory decision making.”

Peter Mutasa president of Zimbabwe Congress of Trades Union said there was need to build a national consensus to demand accountability for themselves from government.

He said the current regime has a track record of abusing public funds and expecting prudent management of the COVID19 funds was foolhardy.

Mutasa called on civil society to shift their focus to reach out to citizens to create ‘critical mass’ which will demand for accountability from government

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“We can’t change people who are running and controlling the public purse because of Covid-19, we know the challenges we had before Covid, lack of transparency, procurement without going to tender among other corrupt activities.

“Our main focus is in reaching out to citizens and create a critical mass a lot of things are being done but no one is taken into account we should look at how the current status is decimating the informal sector.

“How do we ensure that citizens demand their rights and make sure citizens take matters into their hands in terms of accountability and demand for their rights?

He added, “Expecting the system that has been failing when this where better and blissful, currently people connected to the system are lining up their pockets, with money that should be channeled towards COVID19 response.”

Participants also bemoaned the moves by the executive to further limit the Parliamentary oversight role through the Constitutional Amendment No 2 Bill, and made calls for Parliament to be actively involved in the Task Force Committees to fight Covid 19.

MDC MP for Kambuzuma Willias Madzimure said constitutional principles on Public Finance Management demanded accountability and transparency on the use of public resources regardless of the prevailing situation.

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He said a critical reflection of how the funds to fight the spread of COVID19 have been used by government leaves a lot to be desired as health institutions and facilities are still not up to standard.

“Section 298 of constitution there are principles which should guide use of public resources despite the fact that we are in a crisis there should be transparency and accountability. Money should be used for specific purposes and we should know how the funds have been used.

“So it’s important to ensure that in the midst of this crisis that we can be able to track the use of public resources, we have a lot of resources that have come in but if you look on the ground which hospital can you say has been renovated to meet the standards?,” said Madzimure.

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