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Where are the free face masks?

Members of the public are yet to start receiving free face masks from their district and city councils, about two months after President Lazarus Chakwera ordered for the same.

In January this year, treasury distributed a sum of K1 billion to all district and city councils for the procurement of face masks, which would be distributed to people for free as one way of preventing the spread of coronavirus.

This was also in reaction to concerns that some people in the country could not afford to purchase the masks.

In the government’s gazzetted laws, it is mandatory for people to wear face masks at any public place including any place of gathering as a containing measure for the spread of the virus.

In latest interviews with Capital FM however, some councils are revealing that they are still on the procurement process.

Anthony Kasunda speaks for the Blantyre City Council which received K44 million to an estimated population of 800 000 beneficiaries.

“We are in the process of awarding contracts to successful bidders,” he stressed.

Asked as to when the council is expected to start distributing the face masks, Kasunda declined to comment, arguing that once the masks have been procured then they will be in a better position to answer.

The Blantyre City Council mouthpiece also gave the same excuse when he was asked about the criteria that will be used to identify beneficiaries;

“Let us procure the masks and all those other issues I think there is a proper guidance from the national taskforce on Covid-19. It is not up to the council to decide who benefits. For the time being, the council is finalizing the procurement process and successful bidders will be notified any day from today,” added Kasunda.

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On her part, Spokesperson for Zomba City Council Mercy Chaluma said;

“Our bidding processes are done and we have identified those that are going to supply the masks to the Zomba City residents.”

Without being specific as to when the distribution will start, the city PRO stressed that immediately after the supplies.

On the beneficiaries’ identification criteria, Chaluma said they will involve all councilors from the city’s 10 wards and the ward development committees in identifying the vulnerable groups who will benefit from the masks.

Zomba City Council received K11 million for an estimated 200 thousand beneficiaries.

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