The Kasempa District Council on Wednesday angered acting Auditor General Roy Mwambwa after requesting for an independent auditor to verify his audit findings on unsupported payments amounting to K251,883.
This was when the named council re-appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Local Government Accounts to respond to audit queries cited in the Auditor Generals’ report for the financial year ended 31st December 2014, 2015, and 2016.
When it reappeared, the Auditor General observed that there were a number of outstanding queries.
One of the issues which came up was that 71 payments amounting to K454,655 which were made during the period under review were not supported by relevant documents such as receipts or invoices. A re-verification exercise revealed there was a balance of 38 payments in amounts totalling to K251, 883.
When asked if the monies were banked, Kasempa District Council Chairperson Dewine Kaoma invited his Treasurer Mukela Imakando to justify the missing K251,883.
“The status of the Auditor General stands the same and on the earlier findings. We know along the way we committed a lot of mistakes but if those mistakes will not be corrected then the position will be that the council was not depositing the monies involved. Chair I beg to move to say the monies in question and I still repeat and I will repeat elsewhere, was being deposited,” Imakando explained.
“The issue at hand here was a mix up which maybe the August House can allow me to explain a bit in the presence of the verifiers. The issue is when you get a market receipt, honourable chair you can’t expect the same amount in the market receipt book to be deposited. We have three documents here. The first one is the prime document which is the market receipt book itself, the second one is the treasurer’s receipt book which should capture that revenue from that source, the third is the cash summary which should elaborate where? What is the market? That is where the mix up is coming about. And all these documents we have come with is to try to show that this is where the monies went, not that the monies were not deposited. Honourable chair believe me, the money was deposited.”
Vice Committee Chairperson Pilila Jere noted that the explanation by the council team was not satisfying.
“If you were banking, what was going to exonerate you more, we are going to the banking sleeps which the auditor general’s office were looking for so that there can be that tallying. If it can be tallied then there wouldn’t be a problem. In your explanation you are not saying anything that we can understand,” Jere said.
Mwambwa then chipped to say: “There is nothing difficult that he is trying to explain there because from the market receipts which they are collecting, the treasurer issues a consolidated receipts from those market receipts [and] then he does the summary which he is now suppose to get to the bank and that summary is suspposed to tie-up with the deposited slips and also bank statements. He is failing to provide the bank statements and the deposit sleeps to show where this amount was actually deposited.”
When council treasurer Imakando got another chance to justify his reasoning, he requested for an independent auditor to reverify the Auditor Generals’ findings.
“Honourable chair, I beg to move the August House to say that is what is obtaining on the ground. What I was trying to explain is that what the Auditor General was trying to put across is the truth which is there. What is there is the same amount which is being collected from the market and is the same amount which is being issued with the treasurer’s general receipt book… The reason chair is that here we need an independent person who should help us,” Imakando said.
And Gerald Zimba expressed disappointment with the council team for its failure to supply adequate documents even after being given a second chance.
“Treasurer I think it is very clear and straight forward that you don’t know what you are doing because even yourself can’t explain what happened. I don’t know who you expect to understand what you did,” said Zimba.
Kelvin Sampa was angered that the local authority did not take its work serious.
“Are you aware that what you are dealing with are national resources? Those are not your personal monies or your private company. So this matter is a very serious matter. From the time you came and appeared before us, we gave you a chance to go and verify and come back with proper information. But as it is now, it looks like chair, they are trying to fabricate evidence now,” Sampa observed.
On the query of unsupported payments, Kaoma brought back the issue of independent auditors to help verify and correct the situation.
“We have seen the standing cases which have still not been sorted, meaning this money is still not accounted for. The same way you are struggling to make these people reconcile is the same way we were struggling to make the auditors understand. And that is why the treasurer when saying we want an independent auditor does not mean that he wanted an independent auditor outside the auditor general’s office,” Kaoma said.
At this point AG Mwambwa was upset that the council secretary and his treasurer were undermining his office by doubting his findings.
“AG what I normally do with things like this is…because I have got an MoU with DEC and the Anti-Corruption Commission especially that this boarders on money laundering. So I will report it to DEC and I can also use my forensic audit team to come and do a forensic audit which after that I normally report to DEC for prosecution. I have done that with some ministries and so I think that is the route that we are going to take,” said Mwambwa.