"You will find no place to hide; there will be no way to escape"( Jeremiah 25:35, New Living Translation).

"You will find no place to hide; there will be no way to escape"( Jeremiah 25:35, New Living Translation).

No better words describe the on-going cat-and-mouse chase taking place between journalist Idriss Ali Nassah and the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DODMA) for detailed expenditure reports on coronavirus activities than these!

During one of his weekly updates, on Sunday, January 17, President Lazarus Chakwera told the nation that his government had released K6.2 billion to the COVID-19 Taskforce.

According to the President, part of the money was used as following:

•K60 million on planning meetings;

•K535 facilitating the return of Malawians from South Africa;

•K185 million on public awareness on media platforms;

•K580 million on border patrols;

•K72 million to support victims of gender-based violence during the pandemic with materials and cash transfers;

•K100 million to disinfect schools;

•K50 million to monitor and enforce COVID-19 protocols in the workplace;

• K50 million on mapping where to put isolation centers.

The next day, Idriss filed a report with DODMA for detailed expenditure reports on the clusters, "to enhance accountability".

Time ticked, with no reply.

"Should DODMA not provide the information by Monday, February 1st, I shall be escalating this pursuit, including approaching the High Court for an order compelling DODMA to account to Malawians by releasing the expenditure reports," Idriss wrote on his Facebook wall.

Then something interesting happened.

'Officials from the Department of Disaster Management Affairs called, and followed up with the email below. The email says, in part, “...all things being constant, the department will share the report by close of business on Monday, February 1, 2021," ' Idriss updated on his Facebook wall on the matter, which generated a lot of interest.

While everyone was waiting with abatted breath for an update from DODMA, Idriss next posted this:

'At the close of business, DODMA writes that “the department has submitted the expenditure reports to the National Audit Office for auditing and verification....and will provide the required information after verification by auditors from the National Audit Office”.'

This, Idriss wrote, showed that 'DODMA has clearly deliberately chosen to mischievously misunderstand my request. I did not request for “audited and verified” statements of accounts. I simply asked for expenditure reports, which the different COVID-19 Taskforce clusters submitted to it. We now engage second gear.'

Not amused with what was happening on the matter, Idriss posted this:

"The pillar-to-post tactic of the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DODMA) in failure to provide the expenditure reports on how the K6.2 billion released to the COVID-19 Taskforce was used between August and December 2020 will be resisted.

We had cashgate once before, and we just might have covidgate on our hands.

This refusal by DODMA to account for the K6.2 billion COVID money is now subject to legal sanction.

DODMA’s thinking is sensational."

While everyone was trying to digest on what was really happening, Idriss posted an update on 5 February, 2021:

"Today, February 5, DODMA writes that it will provide the expenditure reports, but is waiting for submissions from other clusters who have not yet submitted their reports.

"While DODMA ducks and dives, I am happy to report that we have already engaged second gear in efforts to get to the bottom of what looks and smells like COVIDGATE. You will be updated accordingly."

Now everyone is wondering: for how long will DODMA continue playing the hide and seek game over the K6.8 billion coronavirus funds?

"You will find no place to hide; there will be no way to escape "( Jeremiah 25:35, New Living Translation).