Government must account for Covid-19 donations
In the last few months, there has been craze and queries over Covid-19 funds and other resources given to the government by different states, institutions and philanthropists.
These include the US government, the World Bank and Chinese philanthropist Jack Ma of the Ali Baba Foundation.
Some of the funds were grants, while others were loans. Presumably, these funds are meant to help the country to combat effects and curb the spread of coronavirus.
However, Kenyans have been lamenting about the efficacy of the programmes supported by these funds as there has been little to show that the pandemic is in any way being contained and managed efficiently.
Since the first case of Covid-19 was pronounced on March 13, Kenya has been fortunate to receive funding from different sources.
It is reported that the country has so far received over Sh700 million from the US, Sh35 billion from the European Union, Sh100 billion from the World Bank, Sh300 million from James Mwangi of Equity Bank and medical supplies worth millions from Ma.
Despite receiving all these resources, the most Kenyans have heard from the Ministry of Health’s daily press conferences are Covid-19 statistics, including tests and results of the sick, treated, healed and the dead.
Conversely, there have been little indications of serious efforts being undertaken that commensurate to the funds received.
To begin with, there has been a huge backlog of coronavirus results allegedly after chemicals used for the tests ran out of stock.
The issue of quarantine and treatment has also been a thorn in the flesh after many individuals reported being charged for the same.
This is against the government’s directive that these services be offered free of charge.
On medical supplies donated, it was recently reported that they had been allegedly stolen and not available for use by the public.
However, what Kenyans have only heard and read from their government is how approximately Sh4 million of the funds received was used to procure tea and snacks at the Ministry of health.
Article 43 (1) (a) in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution provides that, “Every person has the right to the highest attainable standards of health, which includes the right to health care services, including reproductive health care”.
Additionally, Article 35 provides that, “Every citizen has the right of access to (a) Information held by the State…(3) The State shall publish and publicise any important information affecting the nation”.
The above provisions confer health rights to all persons and further require that important information be made available on the use of funds meant for healthcare.
It is further worth remembering that these rights to healthcare and information have been guaranteed to everyone irrespective of their financial position and/or their status in society.
Citizen participation governance is imperative for the sustainable development of Kenya.
The Covid-19 situation is no exception and Kenyans ought to be vigilant in questioning and seeking accountability of the funds meant to assist in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
On the flip side, the government has an obligation to account for every single penny received and meant for public use, especially on a sensitive intervention such as Covid-19, which has brought the country to a standstill.
The government must open its books and allow access for scrutiny of the funds received as expected by Article 201 of the Constitution on principles of public finance management.
As concerned Kenyans, we must demand for transparency and accountability in the utilisation of these funds in exercise of our sovereignty guaranteed under Article 1 of the Constitution, which states, “All sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya…”
It is not enough to only receive daily statistics of the pandemic.
We must also demand for regular financial expenditure reports from the ministry on how they have utilised funds meant to curb the disease.
It is only by doing so will we ensure prudent management of Covid-19 resources. Let Kenyans rise up and demand accountability from the state now.