The Parliamentary Committee on Local Governments Accounts yesterday sent away acting Ndola City Council Town Clerk Wisdom Bwalya and his team after submitting a report which was not tallying with the Auditor General’s findings.
The committee, chaired by Ikelengi UPND member of parliament Elijah Muchima, noted that the report was not tallying with the audit findings and was probably fabricated.
The committee further noted that the council did not submit responses to some audit queries on unsettled liabilities totalling to K2,623,008 owed to utility companies among other issues.
The committee was also dissatisfied with the council’s response on audit queries that it had allocated 62 plots to 133 applicants resulting in each plot being allocated to about three applicants.
In it’s response, the council only highlighted its layout plan for allocation of plots in selected parts of the city without explaining the reasons and the possible action taken to correct the situation.
The committee then agreed that it would not continue to debate on matters whose responses did not tally with the Auditor General’s findings.
Committee member Darius Mulunda argued that the report left much to be desired.
“I feel we are dealing with a fake report. The report that the town clerk is providing or is giving us is contradicting with the report that he gave to the Auditor Generals a few months ago. It leaves much to be desired. When you look at the whole of the Ndola report, I think there are a lot of irregularities. It’s not a good report so to say…chair, I am not for the idea that we sit and continue to be contradicting each other or from one institution to another, I think we need a good report that we are going to see the prudence use of public resources,” Mulunda said.
Another committee member Leonard Fungulwe proposed that the council team be sent away in order to give them chance to resubmit.
And Gerald Zimba said the report was a tailored one which was meant to be used as a scape goat.
Ndola Central member of parliament Emmanuel Mulenga, who is also committee member, advised the council team to bring verified information which mentioned all the figures involved.
Meanwhile Muchima warned the town clerk that he risked being cited under cap 12 if he misled the committee and further refused to accept the submission.
“It’s a serious matter, we are under parliament because we are under regulations. We have discovered that your presentation is not truthful. There are a lot of irregularities with Ndola [and] we expected you to perform beyond expectations. There has been an outcry about personal vehicles put on collateral, a clinic, a fire tender. All these are issues which we needed appropriate answers and Ndola is a very senior council in this country. In that vein, it has been decided from the members that your report is unsustainable. We can’t sustain this report. You need to take it back and re-look at it in line with what was verified and observations made. But if you come again to present this, cap 12 will be applied on you,” said Muchima.
And in accepting the guidance, Bwalya said he felt ashamed to be associated with Ndola City Council.
“We really take note of the committee’s directives and guidance. It’s regrettable that we find ourselves in such a situation but worth noting also is that, like you have rightly stated, Ndola is a city council which should be exemplary in whatever it does but we find ourselves in a situation where, I think it’s in public knowledge that for the first time in the history of this country, we had a council suspending 32 officers, transferring 120,” Bwalya said.
“And it is against this background that we were moved actually to take over, what we are doing in Ndola is ‘fire fighting’ because even the little information that we had to gather, we had to just use other means. I appreciate chair that you had to mention the issue of motor vehicles, even me when I went as Town Clerk, we were shocked all of us to say how can officers do such a thing? We are not happy but you know there is a concept of perpetual succession. We have to do what is humanly possible within our means because government has sent us to Ndola to try and bring a bit of sanity and this is what we are doing.”
He further told the committee that he would not perform miracles but would rather try to do his best to improve the situation.
“We have been there for less than a year. We have a situation where the entire management is removed. So all the people from Ndola, [starting] from the town clerk [to] all the directors are new and this shouldn’t be an easy situation for us. I think in the eyes of the public people expect that something should be done but we will not perform miracles but we will try within our best to do what is humanly possible…For sure as town clerk I admit [that] it’s sad to be associated with Ndola but you have sent us there. And we will try and do that which is expected. And we will not sit here to come and tell lies, we will tell things as they are on the ground,” said Bwalya.