ACC interest in 2016 report elates AG

Auditor General Ron Mwambwa says the Anti-Corruption Commission will prosecute a lot of cases of impropriety cited in his 2016 report which will serve as a lesson to other controlling officers.

Speaking when he featured on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview, Mwambwa revealed that the ACC had picked about 45 cases from his report whilst the police had also picked some.

“As far as I am concerned, I am doing what I am supposed to do according to the law and I hope that at some point [those misapplying money] will change because arising from this same report for 2016, there are a lot of people who have been suspended. There are a lot of cases which will go for prosecution. So I think that from that, people will learn. Anti-Corruption Commission for instance has picked up something like 45 cases from the Audit report which they are following up, Zambia police have picked up some cases arising from the same report which they are following up and DEC has also taken up some cases. At the moment there are people from Ministry of General Education who have been suspended, there are people at Ministry of Finance who have been suspended pending further investigations which we are doing and most likely, most of these people will find themselves in courts of law being prosecuted. I think that’s a very good starting point,” Mwambwa said.

Meanwhile, Mwambwa said those failing to implement Public Accounts Committee (PAC) recommendations were demeaning the Zambian people who had entrusted the committee to provide checks and balances on their behalf.

“If you look at the audit reports, at the back of the reports you will find a number of outstanding issues. Now, it is the responsibility of controlling officers to make sure that those recommendations which are contained in the Treasury minutes produced by the Ministry of Finance are actually implemented. When I go back and make a follow up then I find that this thing has not been implemeted then that’s the cause of some of things recurring because if we are taking appropriate actions arising from the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee, we were not going to see some of these things that keep on recurring every year. So the country is being let down,” he said.

“The Public Accounts Committee are representatives if the people, so by controlling officers not implementing what the Public Accounts Committee has recommended to be implemented, they are actually saying that what the Zambian people are saying should be forgotten and these people are appointed by the highest office in the land so controlling officers don’t follow recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee, don’t you think they are letting even the President who is the appointing authority down?”

And Mwambwa hailed President Edgar Lungu’s stance against misappropriation of public resources adding that the recently organised workshop for ministers and controlling officers on financial management was an important forum that fostered interaction between public officers and his office.

“A few years ago we used to have conferences where we used to explain what is required of controlling officers but we have not done that in while because of political issues. But I think what we need to do as an office is to make sure that we interact more with controlling officers just to make sure that we explain the importance of some of these issues to them. But I think that the Conference that we had last week at Mulungushi was a very important forum where the interaction was much pronounced in terms of what is supposed to be done and what the expectations are. Of course there are a number of ministries which do extremely well and do note even appear in my reports like in the latest one the Ministry of Mines did not appear there, Ministry of Chiefs did not appear there, Eastern Province did not appear there. There were about nine ministries which did not appear but there is still need for these ministries to keep interacting with my office constantly,” Mwambwa said.

Asked if the reason why there were recurrences in his audit reports was because of weak penalties for erring officers, Mwambwa said the law enforcement agencies were doing the best they could with the few resources they had.

“Well, I don’t know, those are people’s perceptions but if you look at what the government is doing now. For instance what has actually driven the government into changing the public finance Act, is it not because of the same [Auditor General’s] report? So that is why that bill which will be going into Parliament has been done. And I think we must also understand what my responsibility is to audit. The constitution says I should audit and produce a report which is handed over to the President and the National Assembly at the same time, that is what the law says, it does not say that the Auditor General shall prosecute because there are agencies which are mandated to do the prosecution,” said Mwambwa.

“My responsibility is to report and I am reporting on behalf of the Zambian people. They are the tax payers, they are people who entrusting the executive to spend this money on their behalf. There must be an independent person in the name of the Auditor General who checks and gives an assurance to the Zambian people that their money has been used for the intended purposes.I am not trying to speak on behalf of law enforcement agencies but I think some of them are trying within the few resources that they have. I know that we can do better but I think that they try.”

         

Mirriam Chabala

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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