TRANSPARENCY International Zambia (TIZ) president Rueben Lifuka has urged government, among other stakeholders, not to relax and fall into a false sense of security following some gains made so far in the fight against the Coronavirus, but ensure that the response efforts are continued and accounted for at all levels.
And Lifuka has called on government to establish effective auditing processes to ensure transparency and accountability for all donated and other resources allocated towards the COVID-19 fight in order to prevent fraud.
In a statement, Wednesday, commended efforts of health professionals, scientists and essential workers, who had continued to lead and support Zambia’s fight against COVID-19, stating that the country remained indebted to them for the commitment and dedication to duty.
“In light of this, TIZ, hereby, makes the following recommendations, which touch on four aspects of the response to COVID-19: Emergency procurement and trade; government must maintain public and open procurement systems highlighting the cost of procurement, the grade-level of the procured materials and the delivery lead times to ensure public contracting processes that can withstand audit and are responsive to the current needs. These need not be complex matrices, but simple tools, which clearly outline public expenditure in a fast and efficient way and support emergency planning processes; government must monitor, deter, and take relevant action against traders involved in unfair trade practices, such as price hiking of essential goods such as masks, hand sanitizers and food stuffs,” Lifuka urged.
He also asked government to support open, responsible and transparent reporting on COVID-19 and ensure protection for whistle-blowers in this fight.
“Government must ensure the protection of those who may expose wrongdoing of any kind, whether in the procurement system or beyond. Government should collaborate with all relevant stakeholders, including civil society and the private sector, to ensure whistle-blowers are protected from all forms of retaliation, and ensure that the information they disclose is acted upon. Government must support open, responsible and transparent reporting on COVID-19, including the sharing of reliable information on treatment options and good practices. In this vein, TIZ reiterates its call to the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) to immediately rescind its decision to cancel Prime TV’s broadcasting licence,” Lifuka added.
And he called on government to establish effective auditing processes to ensure transparency and accountability for all donated and other resources allocated towards the COVID-19 fight to prevent fraud.
“TIZ commends all institutions and individuals that have donated funds and other resources towards the COVID-19 fight. However, TIZ foresees the potential abuse of such funds where proper guidelines for their use and accountability are not put in place. TIZ, therefore, recommends the following: government must put in place effective auditing processes, tools and procedures to ensure transparency and accountability for donated and other resources; government must put in place effective and robust monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to ensure that donated and other resources not only reach intended beneficiaries, but that beneficiaries are able to provide feedback to support lessons learned; government must ensure open, transparent and regular communication on the donated and other resources, as well as the development of a communication strategy clearly outlining communication channels with the public and relevant stakeholder on how exactly these resources are being used,” advised Lifuka.
“TIZ is convinced that implementing all these recommendations will go a long way in ensuring that Zambia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is not only effective in terms of reaching those it intends to reach, but that it is also in line with principles of transparency and accountability. TIZ believes that it is only when all stakeholders put their efforts together in a transparent, open and corrupt-free manner that the war against COVID-19 will be won.”