Burying Health Sector Corruption in Kenya, Malawi, and Cameroon via the COVID 19 Transparency and Accountability Project (CTAP)

The Mandate of Follow The Money (FTM) is to build citizens’ capacity to stop and uncover corruption in Africa. This mandate has birthed 9 Chapters and is still counting. 

The role of citizens in rescuing the continent from institutional and systemic corruption can not be underestimated. As a leading Pan African Movement, follow the money is taking intentional steps in supporting organizations in Africa to adopt its tracking model and strategy in achieving its accountability mandate.

The CTAP initiative provided the opportunity to support 4 FTM international chapters to track the utilization of COVID 19 funds in their countries. Kenya, Malawi, Liberia and Cameroon received some funding for CTAP in their country for a period of 12 months. And BudgIT supported 3 countries (Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone) Since the inception of these projects, massive results have been recorded providing a case for scalability across other African Countries.

In Liberia, the research conducted in Margibi County on the stimulus package for private schools’ teachers revealed  that only 15% of teachers in the private schools received their shares of the $1 million, while 85% of the participants did not receive their shares of the $1 million budgetary allocation for private schools’ teachers in the 2020/2021 national budget. We advocated for the release of funds to the right people. We have also engaged stakeholders to ensure accessibility is straightforward for the school teachers to access these funds. In Kenya, As of December 2020, the Government of Kenya had mobilized Kshs 214 Billion ($ 2,332,600 Million) through loans, for COVID-19 related expenses, out of which Kshs 162 Billion ($1,765,800 Million) was disbursed to Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDA’s) of County Governments. Out of the amount allocated to the County Governments, there was underutilization of funds, despite the urgency and needs brought about by the impact of the pandemic on citizens.

CTAP Kenya documenting citizens voices on COVID 19 Fund Transparency.
  • Improved participation from government officials– Government officials from several County Governments were key informants in the tracking phase of the Kenya CTAP initiative. These included; Health & Water-Sanitation Chief officers who are in charge of authorizing the expenditure of department budgets, and County Executive Committee members-Health, who are the equivalent of Ministers on the County level. The aforementioned participated in a video interview, discussing the Covid-19 incidence in their respective counties, gaps identified and mitigation strategies for the same, which has been consolidated into a feature documentary produced by the FTM Kenya team at SIDAREC.
  • Development of a Coalition coordination strategy– The first CTAP coalition building meeting held in April 2021 brought together 11 CSOs namely; Transparency International Kenya (TI-K), Shining Hope For Communities (Shofco), Kelin Kenya, International Budget Partnership Kenya (IBP-K), Uraia Trust, the Institute of Public Finance Kenya (IPF-K) and Association of Grassroots Journalists Kenya (AGJK). This has since grown to include Hivos, Development Gateway, Mzalendo and COVID-Kenya. The strategy paper encompasses a situation analysis (SWOT), communication/advocacy strategy, coalition resourcing strategy, expected outcome/impact and roles and responsibilities of the Coalition members. The document served as a roadmap to guide and consolidate collective advocacy efforts at the sub-national and the national levels in regards to enhancing transparency and accountability in public budgeting and contracting processes and access to information around COVID-19. 

In Cameroon, On March 29 2021, the Head of State through the Secretary-General at the Presidency in a letter instructed the Minister of Justice to initiate immediate judicial investigation against co-authors, authors or accomplices in the potential embezzlement of COVID 19 funds. While awaiting the outcome of this governmental investigation of itself ADE/CTAP released Press Statements commending the government for accelerating the call for public administrations to be audited for COVID funds. Due to our intense advocacy on CTAP, the President of the Republic of Cameroon Paul Biya ordered an audit on the use of funds for the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic at a time when persistent information indicated “serious” financial embezzlement. He directed  the Secretary-General, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh who ordered the Minister of Finance, Louis Paul Motaze to release FCFA 32,555,000 to cover the audit costs for the Supreme State Control (CONSUPE) mission at the Ministry of Public Health.

Launch of CTAP Cameroun

In July 29 2020, after the launch of CTAP in Cameroon, the Ministry of Health, citing “the urgent need for transparency”, published in a two-page press release, summary information on how it had spent FCFA 21,973,799,873 billion ($40,556,387.318 million), claiming that this was its total spending in response to COVID-19 within March to July, 2020. Though insufficient in details, this press release provided a baseline for further investigations on the expenditure of COVID funds in Cameroon.In Malawi, CTAP Malawi released our research on how COVID funds were spent and exposed how several people from the government had mismanaged COVID-19 funds. Immediately after releasing this report, the president of Malawi Dr Lazarus Chakwera fired the Minister of Labour and arrested 19 officials who were involved in the mismanagement of Covid 19 funds. This was a success for CTAP in Malawi because even after the audit report on the COVID funds had come out and exposed the mismanagement of the funds, nothing was done until the CTAP report was shared in public domain.

Launch of CTAP Malawi by the CEO of CODE Hamzat Lawal

In the second phase, We plan to upskill local groups and strengthen the operationalization of coalitions in sharpening conversations and engagement with governments on wider health sector accountability and transparent utilization of COVID 19 funds across more African countries.

AboutLucy Abagi

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