A STUDY by Transparency International Zambia has revealed that there is no coordination between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Finance in handling donations made towards the fight against COVID-19.

And the study has revealed that some private sector actors were making declarations of donations before they actually donate, giving them an opportunity to gain popularity based on falsehoods.

Speaking during press briefing, Friday, TIZ democratic governance lead officer Gilbert Mwanza said the lack of coordination among stakeholders signaled lack of information on the total amount of donations made.

“The first thing that TIZ noticed is that in terms of the coordination mechanisms, there is lack of effective coordination among stakeholders. Why do we say so? Through TIZ’s engagement meetings with health permanent secretary administration and the Ministry of Finance Accountant General’s office, it was apparent that the two ministries are not sharing adequate information on specific records of resources management towards the COVID-19 response. It was further apparent that these institutions lacked information on the status of the total donations towards the response as would be seen from each making reference to the other,” Mwanza said.

Mwanza said the lack of real time donation capturing and tracking mechanisms created an opportunity for falsifying or failure to capture all donations.

“In terms of the record keeping and updated information and resource management in COVID-19 response, as of August 2020, the Ministry of Finance could only provide statistics of donations up to June 2020. So you can imagine, July and August, they did not have the adequate information with regards to how much is there but the only information we could be provided with is up to June. We are hoping probably by November, we will get something from August,” he said.

He added that there was hesitation by government and some of the donors to provide information on donations.

“Colleagues, you can agree with me that if a person has donated in good faith, why would they refuse to give you the information of what they have donated? So for us that is a red flag because if you came out in the open to say, you donated K1 million to the Zambian people and when you are asked, how much did you donate to verify and you refer the person that is asking you to the people he donated to, it raises a very big question as to whether you genuinely donated that money or probably it was just window [dressing],” Mwanza noted.

“We encountered a number of challenges to confirm the donations by the receipts as they were not ready to share the data.”

And Mwanza said declaring donations before they could be made created an integrity issue in the whole process.

“It has also been noted that some private sector actors are making declarations of donations before they actually donate. This is not only an integrity issue but also creates opportunities from private sector actors to get popularity on falsehoods as well as it having a potential to unduly influence public institutions involved in management of resources. An example that I would cite is somebody just saying I have donated one million face masks when in the actual sense the face masks have not been delivered. So how then can we prove that those face masks are going to be delivered to the intended people,” said Mwanza.

He however commended the Auditor General’s office for moving in and ensuring that donations are audited continuously instead of waiting until the end of the year.

And TIZ advocacy officer Patrick Bwalya said from April to June, the country received donations, in various forms, amounting to K209.1 million towards the fight against COVID-19.

The study ran for three months and was necessitated by concerns raised by stakeholders over accountability in the handling of COVID-19 donations.