TRANSPARENCY International Zambia (TI-Z) says there is lack of information being disseminated to the public on the COVID -19 donations to enhance transparency.

In an interview, TI-Z executive director Maurice Nyambe said information from COVID-19 donations had noticeably reduced and that there was need to disseminate it on a regular basis to ensure transparency in their utilisation.

“It is one thing to tell us how much has been donated, you also need to tell us how those donations have been utilised. It was a good initiative to publicize the donations that were given, but this must be in a regular manner, whether you are doing it on a monthly basis or every two weeks or something. I think, as the public, we need to have a regular update to what is being donated and how these donations are being used,” Nyambe said.

“The other week, we were told that some health workers have not been paid, then you start wondering, ‘but we have been given so much in terms of donations in terms of money and in terms of materials, so why should we have health workers involved in the COVID-19 fight not getting paid?’ So, it is about clarifying these things and making it clear what really is going on. It’s about being consistent with the information you are releasing to the public, particularly, when it comes to public funds. These are public funds and public funds attract a certain level of scrutiny because they belong to the public.”

He also wondered why the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development was targeting to acquire funds from the K8 billion COVID-19 bond to pay contractors when funds to the road sector were already allocated before the Coronavirus pandemic.

Government has so far managed to raise K6.8 billion from the COVID-19 bond that was recently issued by the Bank of Zambia (BoZ), according to Ministry of Finance data.

“It is important that government gives a consistent message as to what is actually transpiring because where there is lack of clarity, where we seem to be getting contradictory statements, that is when speculations arise. When speculation arises, that is when people begin to ask questions: ‘what is going on here?’ ‘Is there something under-hand going on here?’ Our plea to government is to be very clear about what they are proposing and not just telling us what they are proposing; why are they proposing to move in that manner? What has happened to money that was allocated towards those road projects? Is that money finished? What is going on?” wondered Nyambe.