PAC questions Judiciary’s copy and paste responses to audit queries

The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee has complained that the Judiciary provides the same responses to audit queries every year.

But the Judiciary says that it is because PAC asks the same questions every year.

Meanwhile, PAC has been angered by news that keys to the safe at Namwala Magistrates’ Court have been missing since 2010 without any action being taken.

The Judiciary, led by chief administrator Nalishebo Imata today appeared before PAC to present responses to audit queries cited in the Auditor General’s report.

But Committee Chairperson Howard Kunda and Nkana PF member of parliament Alexander Chiteme noted that the Judiciary’s submission was a duplicate of the previous year’s submission.

“From 2010 to today, surely should we be waiting for instructions from somewhere to deal with the matter? Thanks very much for that submission which looks like the same as what you submitted last year. To me it looks like cut and paste,” Kunda noted.

Chiteme added; “Just like you stated in your preamble, chair, this submission is a copycat of what was submitted last year prompting me to think that there has been no improvement whatsoever on all the matters that have been raised and on the recommendations that were made on the last Auditor General’s report. My question is, honorable chair, is the administrator seriously dealing with the issues that are brought to them in the Auditor General’s report year after year considering that no serious attention has been paid to the issues because they are the same issues. No safes, under banking, delayed banking, everything academic. Does the administrator have the capacity to control the officers under her charge or do the officers under her charge have the capacities to deal with these simple accounting issues per se?”

In response, Imata said the queries made by the committee to the Judiciary were equally repetitive.

“Chair I wish to state that the queries are repetitive and our responses may appear to be repetitive because we are dealing with the same issues,” Imaata said.

She however assured PAC that some erring officers had been dealt with.

“But chair, I wish to state that the officers that appeared in last year’s report, if we had to give an action taken report, you will note chair that they have been dismissed, they have been disciplined. Yes, we started on a journey last year when we came we said we are going to sensitize our officers which we have done. Sensitization, behavioural change, some are slow, some do react quickly. So far we have trained eight provinces, we are remaining with two and after the training there will be no excuse. And in fact chair, in our submission, those that are actually found to have stolen, we charge and they are appearing before the disciplinary committee. So chair, I wish to state before the committee that this is not an academic exercise, us in the Judiciary we take this to be very serious,” Imata said.

Meanwhile, the Judiciary angered PAC when it reported that keys to a safe at the Namwala Magistrates’ Court had been missing since 2010.

“In the Auditor General’s report on page 24, special reference to Southern Province in Namwala at the magistrates court. They said the safe has not been used since 2010 due to missing key and no action has been taken to-date. My question is, what was in the safe when the key went missing? If there was government money, why haven’t they even taken the locks there? This simply shows that they have got no use for these safes. Even when we say we buy them safes, they don’t use them because there is a tendency in the Judiciary for people to take money and put it in their pockets and when the auditors come, that is when they scamper to look for money everywhere else. So that is a tendency that the controlling officer should be looking at. And not the provision of safes. My other concern Mr Chair is that the controlling officer here on the floor of the house that she is incapable of providing supervision to her officers because her stating in this house that they lack supervision, but she should also be reminded that those supervisors fall under her charge. Therefore I pose the same question, is she capable?” Chiteme asked.

In response, Imata said there was no report of any money inside the safe at the time the key went missing.

“When the safe was found to have a problem, first of all I was not aware and there was no report of any money because as it is, the safe is open. So the safe cannot be used to put in the money according to my magistrate in charge of the station,” said Imaata.

“The officer in charge of that station should have written to notify the one in charge of the province that the safe is not working due to loss of the keys. Chair, in my submissions you will see that I have dealt with the officers that are erring, I have the proof here. I have charged the supervising officers that they are not doing their job. So chair, I feel that my office has taken the necessary measures. And the one for Ndola High Court, the matter was reported to police. I will address the issue of safes. The chief resident will respond to what happened to the safe when the keys went missing. Chair, the lack of action also shows that the people that use these safes, they should have notified the officers in charge because it is very easy.”

         

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