DISASTER Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) national coordinator Chanda Kabwe says government is not hesitant in providing information on COVID-19 donations.
Last week Transparency International Zambia observed that there was no coordination in the handling of COVID-19 donations and that government was hesitant in providing information on the same.
But in an interview, Kabwe said all donations were in public domain and information relating to the same was always published.
“There is no hesitations from government to provide information on COVID-19 donations. We put in the print media, for consecutive days, it was running in the print media. If they want, we can also repeat, even next week I can get quotations from both private and public media to print the donations name by name, amount. We can do that even next week after the consultative forum for people to read and understand and then they can raise questions. I think there is a way they need to engage. If they want information, they need to engage,” Kabwe said.
“All donations are in public domain, government published all the donations value, name, whoever donated, two days running in the national newspaper. I am sure that shows that transparency is there. The culture of just speaking without engaging and getting clarifications from relevant government wings is a problem. If they want to get more details, they know that institutions like DMMU are coordinating in terms of this COVID and they can put in a request. We can always speak to them but if they want to address through the media, it is difficult for us to know what kind of explanation they are looking for.”
Kabwe said government only had one account at the Ministry of Finance where all donations were being deposited.
“Government has institutions that verify what is happening and all donations in terms of money, government has only one account at the Ministry of Finance where all donations go. In terms of items each donating unit or organisation, they choose where to donate; for example others go and donate at the prisons as we only get to know how much has been donated, the quantities and items that have been donated at the prisons. So all that information is available if they want they should engage and when they engage the information is there. But most of the information is in public domain,” Kabwe said.
“They can go to Times of Zambia and Daily Mail look at when we published all the donations, the names, the value and the items that were received from all institutions. I am sure that is more information. We have nothing to hide and most of these donations, 80 per cent are covered by both public and private media houses. They do cover donations, so I don’t know where they say there is no transparency in the donations.”
He said the donor community was happy with how government was managing COVID-19 donations.
“When you are working, you have auditors, external auditors are monitoring every single donation, every ngwee for COVID. If there is no transparency in the donations why are the donor community continuing to give us support for COVID and the relief programs? It’s because we are above board and because they are very happy with the systems that government has put in place. I can invite Transparency Zambia International to attend our meeting on Tuesday a consultative forum which is co chaired by the UN. I invite them officially and I am going to write to them to attend the meeting where the report on the COVID will be given. The report on African Locust will be given, the report on relief distribution will be given in detail and they can raise questions if they are not happy with our report that we are going to give. Then they can provide checks and balances,” he said.
“All those issues they are going to be raised in that meeting, we are going to answer them, if we have no answer, they are going to take us to task. Our cooperating partners, this is the platform we use to give them reports so that they commit their funds. If they are happy with how the funds have worked for intended purposes or the funds have been misused, this is the platform where the international Community, High Commissioners and Ambassadors will be able to speak. So there is no better platform.”
When asked to comment on the opposition’s remarks that DMMU had turned into a campaign tool for the PF government, Kabwe said opposition leaders were like cry babies who did not understand the role of the unit.
“Those are crying babies and they will cry. I will tell you, where I come from, they say someone who doesn’t like you, they will even accuse you to raise dust when you are standing in a pool of water. All those allegations are not true, it is not understanding the role of DMMU, where it draws its mandate and its powers. When they speak they even ignore the role of DMMU because they want to get political mileage, they want to bring DMMU in those areas. We know where we draw our authorities as a unit and we all know the works of DMMU. We are not the only unit of government that receives donations,” said Kabwe.
“The people making noise are the same people, every day the same people, they are paid to talk and me I am paid to work. I go to get a salary not to talk, but to work and that is my business. So I won’t respond to crying babies, people who just talk about things they don’t even know.”