Covid-19 mismanagement scandal: 20 Women tell IMF to stop loans to Cameroon if ‘embezzlers’ are not punished, other facts

Since the Supreme State Audit preliminary report on the irregularities in the management of the Covid-19 funds, there has been an outcry to punish the government officials involved.  Here are the key facts.

The international Monetary Fund, through its Financial Credit Facility, disbursed on May 2, and later October 21, 2020, the total sum of $382 million to weather the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic among other donations.

  1. Preliminary report

On the request of President Biya, as seen in a release from Ferdinard Ngoh Ngoh on March 29, a preliminary report in its 22 pages formed the bases for the audition of government officials involved in the management of Covid-funds.

The ministries of Health and Scientific Research stood out with some of the 30 irregularities registered for 24 ministries.

The Ministry of Public Health at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19 got $84 million out of the $382 in the Special Fund to fight against covid19.

Under Dr. Manaouda Malachie, the health ministry attributed huge contracts to a company Medline Medical Cameroon  from whom they purchased tests at $32 when they could have got it cheaper $6 through the Global Fund for Malaria, HIV, and Tuberculosis, the preliminary presidency commissioned report states.

Medline Medical won the contract to purchase 8 medical ambulances, worth $820,479 but as of December 31, 2020, they were not yet delivered them.

The report regrets that as a consequence of the irregularities,  government treasury lost FCFA 14 billion, ($26million).

The report followed an investigation by Data Cameroon, indicating that, donors to the Covid-19 funds did not match the records of the ministry of health.

Manaouda Malachie, health minister, has denied wrong doing and told the auditors that he was acting on instructions from above.

“The minister has indicated that while investigations have not been finalized, he reserves the right to remain silent”, a close aide said.

Medline medical responded saying the ministry of health is still owing FCFA 8 billion on commands not yet paid for.

The minister of Scientific Research, Madeleine Tchuinte is faulted for importing Chloroquine instead of inputs from India and transforming them to “Made in Cameroon”.

Communication Minister warns media and public to stay mute

Rene Emmanuel Sadi, Cameroon Communication Minister in a release mentioned that following the report, ministers were being auditioned at the Special Crime Court.

This is a court charged with the responsibility of hearing matters related to misappropriation from FCFA 50billion.

The minister of Communication has warned that government officials being investigated are not yet guilty until proven in court and Cameroonians should not condemn them.

Arrest and Detention

It is only when the court must have proven the officials guilty that some would be arrested and detained.

This will not be the first-time government officials are detained for embezzlement. Former Public Health Minister, Urbian Olanguena Awono is serving a 20-year term relating to the mismanagement of HIV/AIDS and Malaria.

As investigations are still on, unidentified armed men made their way into the Supreme State and made away with computers that contained information.

20 Women petition IMF on mismanagement of Covid-19 Funds

20 women with Alice Nkom Human Rights Lawyer and Kah Wallah political leader and activist amongst, stated with regret to the IMF that Cameroonians dies of lack of oxygen, protective kits while money was misappropriated.

“Funds under the facility from 20217 to 2020 should be audited and defaulters punished. Without this the IMF should not lend money to Cameroon again”, the women wrote.

5 Public Reactions

“A senator colleague died in Yaoundé.  There was no oxygen to administer on him and being an aged person, he had to die. You can’t imagine the basics like oxygen are lacking, but we hear the huge sums mismanaged”, Senator Henry Kemende of the main opposition Social Democratic Front  party, laments.

“The funds would have gone to prevent people from dying, to rush them to treatment centres. Imagine ambulances were bought on paper but were not supplied, hotel bills for quarantined patients were not paid…whereas there were funds to handle the cases until they got well”, he adds.

The lawmaker is vexed by the fact that government officials have got to a point where they are prepared to sell human beings.  When given loans to secure the wellbeing of people, they embezzle.

Following the scandal, Nancy Saiboh, Anti-Corruption Activist, CEO, FollowTheMoney Cameroon says,  “We are proud to be leveraging the Follow the Money platform to activate a Pan-African tracking system for all COVID-19 funds received and donated to these countries”.

“Our experience with the tracking of Covid-19 funds has revealed a deeply rooted systemic profiteering culture, especially in an environment that lacks accountability and civic engagement.”, she adds.

For the lawmaker, Jean Michel Nintcheu who initiated a probe in the National Assembly on the management of the Covid-19 funds, has insisted “the ministers of health and scientific research should resign”.

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