Who has tampered with COVID-19 money?

EDITORIAL 05 May 2021
Who has tampered with COVID-19 money?

It should be recalled that early last month, precisely on April, 6, 2021, the president ordered the minister of justice to carry out a full scale investigation into the management of the COVID-19 funds allocated to Cameroon by the International Monetary Fund. But whether these instructions are being followed to the spirit and letter, we cannot for now tell. All we know is that there can be no fire without smoke and rumour of embezzlement and misappropriations have taken their rounds. They must have reached the president’s ears.
For one thing, it should be recalled that the International Monetary Fund at the initial state of this negotiation, overtly showed their unwillingness to give Cameroon these funds, knowing at the background Cameroon’s record of cases of embezzlement and misappropriation of funds. But looking at the threat of the pandemic, they offered the funds ultimately. It is also well known that these funds were reallocated to the various ministries. But the impact of these allocations could hardly be felt on the reality on the ground.
One thing is obvious and it explains itself very vividly in the present circumstance. This is so because, experience has proved that every rumour in Cameroon, is like a spiritual revelation of things to come. Privately, Cameroonians have learned, not to take any rumour lightly. For, they always turn out to be nothing but the truth. Here comes the latest story brought home by rumour, which has taken rounds both within Cameroon and the international community.
We are referring here to the COVID-19 money allocated to Cameroon by the International Monetary Fund, which in our local parlance, one would simply say “E don miss road” which in the present context, it simply means that the money has gone into wrong hands. The truth is that an NGO, which goes under the name, Action for Development, working in close collaboration with another group known as, Follow the Money International, have been carrying out investigations on the management of COVID-19 funds in Cameroon.
Recently they presented their findings which show that there has been a glaring absence of transparency in the management of the funds, which raise questions about the efficiency of the procurement processes for the acquisition of medical equipment for the fight against the scourge. The investigation also finds fault with criteria for the distribution of the various donations.
The other areas which the report questions in their report includes the communications strategy implemented, which according to the investigators, does not bear any transparency relating to the statistics and therefore does not facilitate the dissemination of simple information to the public. Perhaps the most disturbing of all the anomalies expressed by the investigators is the imbroglio on the number of deaths in Cameroon.
We in this Newspaper consider this as one very regrettable aspect of the entire management of the COVID-19 pandemic in Cameroon. We have always reiterated our disenchantment with the way patients are received in a number of centres. In one of our recent Editorials, we pointed out the lack of sensitization concerning the impending administration of the various vaccines now available in the country. There is an absolute breakdown in communication between the government and the population on this issue. Sometimes one is tempted to ask whether this is not a deliberate ploy to outwit the population.
On the issue of the spread of the pandemic proper, there have even been reports of patients with ordinary diseases, having been diagnosed as COVID-19 patients and admitted as such. In most cases, whatever happens later, and the patient happens to die, his or her remains are handled under what the authorities will describe as COVID-19 preventive measures.
It is however consoling that the goings-on have come to the notice of the president and he has taken the necessary measures to arrive at the truth. Our fear is however that the current investigations ordered by the president will not go the way of the others before it. The other consolation is that if all goes well in the spirit expected of the investigations, we can see many heads rolling. This is the only way to wash the stain on our national image in the perception of the international community.

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