Recently, key Civil Society Organizations threatened to hold demonstrations over K40Billion which was mysteriously allocated to pro Government Members of Parliament. In fear of the demonstrations, Government invited the CSO leaders for round table discussions.
Civil Society Statement on Meeting with Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe on the MK 4 Billion SagaBelow is the statement on the outcome of the meeting.
As Human Rights Defenders working to protect the interests of the citizens of this country, we would like to make a statement on the meeting we had with the Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe. The purpose was to provide an opportunity to the Ministry to explain the background and context that led to allocating MK 4.5 billion.
The Minister attempted to explain how the money was allocated and the rationale for ‘the project’. What has come out clearly is the following:
a. The Parliamentary processes that were followed were mere acts of ‘laundering’ the dirty intentions.
b. It also came out clearly that the said amounts came after adjusting a few allocations in the budget including the allocations for governance institutions like the Anti-Corruption Bureau.
c. The minister acknowledged that funds for some critical ministries like Ministry of Health or education were not tampered with (neither reduced nor added). The logical thing to be done being adding to the funds of such critical ministries.
d. Further, the Minister admitted that there is no compliance systems so far set to safeguard how the funds would be protected. This was despite an admission that funds for local development have been so heavily abused in the present past.
e. The Minister also admitted that initially 86 members of parliament were earmarked to benefit from the funds and he said that the responsibility was on Honorable Nankhumwa to identify the beneficiaries and that ‘there is a possibility that his first consideration was to those that are close to him like members of his own political party’.
f. There are no clear budgets, proposals for projects of the members of Parliament or any set guidelines on how the funds will be used.
g. The Minister opted for the new funding model because in their view the local development and constituency development funds were inefficient and being abused by authorities.
There are existing legal systems like the CDF, LDF and DDF which the minister acknowledged that they have decided to bypass for an experimental methodology. Unfortunately, all the technocrats from the ministry including the minister himself agreed that there are no specific set compliance mechanisms that have been put in place except that they intend to pay contractors directly from the central Government. This reminded members present of the evil cash-gate scandal.
The following is the position of members of the civil society that attended the meeting:
a. The whole MK4 billion saga is state sponsored money laundering scheme. The Parliamentary process being used merely as a façade.
b. The position of members of the CSOs that attended the meeting remains unchanged: the minister should resign and the funds should not be disbursed.
c. Our initial ultimatum ends today and we officially announce that shortly we will start organizing demonstrations and/or shortly we may take up these issues before a court of law.
d. We are mindful and saddened by the state-sponsored propaganda to the effect that members of the CSO are not for. However, our resolve to push for accountability remains un-shaken.