The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) today chased away an internal auditor at the Ministry of Justice who went to answer queries raised in the Auditor General’s Report, but appeared inappropriately dressed before the committee.
And the committee questioned the controlling officers to explain why the Ministry had failed to recover the funds misappropriated by some officers for the last four years, despite numerous recommendations to do so.
Committee Chairperson Howard Kunda asked the officer identified as Eugine Mwila who was without a jacket and neck tie to go back and dress properly.
Soon after Ministry of Justice Permanent Secretary Thandiwe Daka Oteng presented the submission of responses to the audit queries cited in the 2016 Auditor General’s report, Kunda asked the internal auditor to go back and dress appropriately.
“I have seen that the internal auditor is not dressed appropriately. If you can go and be dressed as one who has come to appear before Public Accounts Committee. Am sure you are aware that this is a working day that requires you to be dressed in a way that you are going to the office. So please if you can go and be dressed. And PS, am sure you know the rules here,” Kunda said.
Kunda later questioned Oteng why the Ministry of Justice was failing to recover misappropriated funds.
“I would want to state that this issue of failure to recover funds has been appearing from 2014. 2014, 2015, and now it is re-appearing in the current report. In 2015, the same answer is what you gave that you have given in the current one and I can quote here, it says ‘in view of the foregoing, the Ministry is in the process of compiling a list of public officers that have caused the loss of public money due to negligence’ that was in 2015. And our recommendation also was in line with the way you answered,” Kunda observed.
“Now you are saying you have given us the list of those officers that caused the loss of monies for government. I can see that this letter that you have provided, it was written yesterday meaning even when we sent the notices to yourselves, this was not there, it is being reactive. Madam PS why are you being reactive instead of being proactive? This issue has been on the tables from 2014 to-date and now we are finishing 2017, am sure it will also appear in 2017. why are you being reactive instead of being proactive? These are very serious issues that government is losing colossal sums of money.”
And Teddy Kasonso who is also committee member as well as Solwezi West UPND member of parliament reminded the controlling officers at the ministry that the responsibility to recover all the lost monies was in their hands.
“First of all what is your name? I want to address you by your name,” Kasonso asked as the officer identified himself as Francis Kondwelani Mwale.
“Mr Mwale,” Kasonso continues, “don’t come here and start telling us about various institutions involved and so on. The responsibility to recover this money lies upon your Ministry. Here you have put appendixes here up to five. There is no appendix here which shows that you have recommended recoveries of this money for various officers to various ministries. Show me where you have recommended? For me to exonerate you the responsibility to recover this money, there is nowhere. And also as the chair said, government is always one. It is up to you to engage other departments or other ministries to ensure that they do the right thing. So in this case, you are telling us that this money will not be recovered because you don’t know who is suppose to recover it, is that what you are suggesting? Kasonso asked.
In response, Mwale said the recovery of lost funds was an ongoing process.
“I think in my response I started with the general perspective of why sometimes it takes a bit of time to recover and specifically I was addressing a question that came from Honorable Munkonge. And in my answer I was giving a general scenario..,” he said.
But Kunda interrupted him saying “We are not here to give general scenarios. Be specific, you have given us the report so stick to your report but whatever is out of this has to be factual. We don’t want scenarios here, please go ahead.”
“Thank you very much Chair, I think on the part to do with us communicating, that is how the information to do with the names has actually come out. Its because of the engagements that may have happened before today between the Ministry of Justice and these other institutions. And I think the PS did mention earlier the fact that this has been standing for this long, this has…,” Mwale said.
Kunda interrogated further saying “You have not addressed those concerns by the Honuorable members, we want you to address them,” to which Mwale responded, “I don’t know which one has not been addressed. What I was saying is that in terms of the evidence, this is an ongoing process in terms of the recoveries and thats my answer.”