Lusaka Province Permanent Secretary Charles Sipanje has written to Public Service Management Division (PSMD) recommending the dismissal of his deputy Josphat Lombe for allegedly misappropriating public funds, among other offences.
Meanwhile, Committee chairperson Howard Kunda sent away the controlling officer and his team for referring to documents which were not attached to the submission.
Sipanje told the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Monday, that his deputy’s offense was similar the offense committed by four accounting officers who were dismissed for obtaining meal allowances amounting to K1 million for a number of days which exceeded the calendar year.
“The query arose as a result of five officers being paid for days ranging from 637 to 763 days in a calendar year for which they could not account. I wish to report that the out of the five officers, four accounting officers have since been dismissed from the civil service with effect from 17th October, 2018 for the offenses of misconduct, unethical conduct and misappropriation of public funds for the full amount of 365 plus the excess as [shown in the submitted copy]. Further, my office has suspended the deputy permanent secretary (DPS) and has made recommendations to the permanent secretary, Public Service Management Division (PSMD) for his dismissal from the civil service as the offenses committed are similar to the four officers already dismissed by civil service commission. The suspension letter and the recommendation for staff dismissal from the public service are available for audit verification,” Sipanje told the committee.
Sipanje said he had also reported his deputy to the police and to the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) for further investigations.
“Further, in order to serve as a deterrent measure and set an example to other officers [who are] still in the service, I have reported the matter to the Inspector General of Police (IG), [and to] the Drug Enforcement Commission to carry our further investigations as the matters are indicative of Money Laundering,” said Sipanje.
Meanwhile, after noticing that the document he had did not have any of the material the PS was referring to as proof of action taken, Kunda ordered that the committee be excused for about five minutes in order to share notes.
After sitting resumed, the committee, together with officers from the Auditor General’s office discovered the referred to attachments were only submitted on the particular day of sitting, which is against procedure.
“There are a lot of issues that we have considered and gone through. There are documents for example the appendix 32, it is not there, and we can’t see it. There are other documents that you have referred to but are not indicating that they are part of what you have referred to. So it is important that we allow you to prepare properly PS. And the fact that you have given us this documents today and the AG’s (Auditor General’s) office receiving the same documents today, you know the process is such that the auditor general has to go through these submissions that you bring so that they can give us expert advice on these documents. So it makes work very difficult if you bring these documents just the day we are sitting and to make matters worse, the AG confirming that they have just received them (documents) makes it difficult to follow,” Kunda observed.
Kunda then sent away the controlling officer and his team and asked them to resubmit to the office of the auditor general as well as to the committee following the approved time frame.
He warned all controlling officer submitting before his committee to desist from referring to documents which were not there.
He said the committee would not take kindly to half baked submissions.
“And this should also be…and now I am addressing all the controlling officers, this should an example that we do not want to see documents that are presented to us half baked. We want documents that if you refer to it, it should be there so that we can go through. If it is not there, why refer to it? So this is a timely warning to the ones that will come and appear before this committee going forward that we need to see documents that are complete and not documents that will come on the day. So at least we need to have documents presented to the AG’s office at least three days before appearing so that that process of verification can start. So let us have this taken very serious so that we can conclusively deal with these matters. We would like you to come back on Wednesday next week at 11:30 hours prepared with all the documents put in place and submitted,” said Kunda.