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Theft at Solwezi council shocks parliamentary committeeBy Mirriam Chabala on 25 May 2017
Solwezi Municipal council town clerk Venture Kafula yesterday shocked the Parliamentary Committee on Local Governance, Housing and Chiefs Affairs when he failed to explain how K12 million was spent at the local authority.
The Parliamentary Committee has since observed that the Solwezi Municipal council recorded the highest misuse of the Funds in the country during the financial years.
According to the latest Auditor General’s report, revenue amounting to k110, 814 out of the total k176, 560, 101 was unaccounted for by the local authority at the Solwezi municipality in that the money was neither banked nor was cash found during the period under review.
The AG further revealed that the local authority had failed to bill 63 out of 2, 415 properties which were on its valuation roll as of December 2016 and as such, revenue totaling k234, 643 was not collected.
Committee Chairperson Maxwell Kabanda this morning summoned Kafula to explain how the said money was spent at the local government authority.
Kabanda warned the TC to tell only the truth as the money involved in their case was so much to be wasted.
“Of all the councils that have appeared before us, you are the single council that is actually reporting very huge figures so we want to get the truth out of you how these revenues have been used and why these queries. So, bear that in mind when you are actually giving responses,” Kabanda said.
But in response, Town Clerk Kafula told the committee that the municipality had noted it’s failure and that it was working on rectifying the situation.
“Thank you Chair, in our response we have indicated that we have captured the property cited for the query and the billing has started again on this query. It’s really failure by the local authority to have collected this revenue and the Auditor General is on firm ground to really cite the local authority as having failed to collect these revenues,” Kafula submitted.
“But, currently under the help of GIZ, we have done what we call ‘Solwezi Urban Survey’ where we have captured all the properties and so we know where every property is and so it has become very easy for us to be able to build a substance report.”
But, committee members argued that Kafula’s response did not correspond with the question asked and demanded for a better explanation.
“TC, the question is; where are these properties which could not be built that time?” asked one of the committee members.
The town clerk responded: “Chair, the properties are 57 dwelling houses and then there are also others that are like business places so the list is here maybe you can have a look at the list Mr Chair. The attachments are copies of the bills that have been delivered.”
But after reviewing the submitted report, the committee was still not satisfied with some of the explanation.
Committee Member Makozo Chikote asked the town clerk to admit to the committee that the local authority had a weak management in place which failed to detect lapses in the system.
“Before you come in Chair allow me just ride on what he had said. maybe the TC is not getting our point, these measures which you have put where put in 2016 and this is where our worry is that you put measures after the Auditor came in. Why can’t the TC accept that this is a weakness in his office because these lapses would have been discovered even before the Auditors came because he has been there at the institution for a year so he was supposed to detect if he was an effective controlling officer of the institution. This is our point, why can’t he admit,” Chikote asked.
The committee rebuked Kafula and told him that he was not fit to be Town Clerk because he was failing to superintend over administration of funds at the municipality.
The town clerk struggled on with his explanations but was interrupted by the committee chairperson Maxwell Kabanda who asked him to apologise to the committee for failing to give satisfactory answers.
“Mr Chairman even in our written submissions we have submitted that there were financial lapses in the way transactions were taken and we take full responsibility as a local authority,” TC Kafula said as Chairperson Kabanda interrupted him to say “Follow it up and tender an apology to the committee for that.”
And the TC immediately submitted his apologies.
“Unreservedly Mr Chairman, we tender an apology for the serious financial lapses in terms of unaccounted for revenue,” said TC Kafula.
About Mirriam Chabala
Mirriam Chabala is a Zambian journalist who covers current affairs and writes in-depth feature articles on social issues.
Email: mirriam [at] diggers [dot] news
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