The Civil Service Commission, working with the Public service Management Division (PSMD) has fired Lusaka Province principal accountant Grace Mwenya Zimba and her two deputies Nzewa Chumbu and Gideon Zulu for theft of government funds.

And the Civil Service Commission has ordered that the money they stole must be recovered from their terminal benefits.

Earlier this month, Lusaka Province Permanent Secretary Charles Sipanje suspended his deputy Josephat Lombe and four accounting officers after an audit report revealed shocking theft of millions of kwacha.

The suspended accounts officials included Psela Banda, Nzevwa Chumbu, Gideon Zulu and Grace Mwenya.

According to records obtained by News Diggers! among the most glaring irregularities were that the five officers paid themselves meal and subsistence allowances in amounts totalling K2,109,275 for carrying out various activities over days ranging from 612 to 732 days, which is way over the number of days in one calendar year.

The records obtained show that Lombe alone was paid subsistent and meal allowances totalling K549,000 over a period of 732 days out of 365 calendar days, translating into an excess of 367 days. Mwenya also paid herself allowances for a period equal to two years but under one calendar year, amounting to a total K439,500. Assistant accountants Banda, Zulu and Chumbu paid themselves K357,590, K358,985 and K404,200 for 612, 683 and 726 calendar days respectively.

The records showed that millions were spent on 28 officers to carry out various activities in Lusaka District, but an investigation conducted revealed that the officers either did not spend any money on the activities or did not visit the sites at all.

The records further revealed that Lombe had been getting subsistence allowances at the rate of Permanent Secretary, without authority from the Secretary to the Cabinet, resulting in overpayment of K49, 600.

According to dismissal letters dated October 17, 2018 signed by PSMD director for technical services department Margaret Kapihya, and addressed to the Lusaka Province Permanent Secretary, four of the five accused government officials have been dismissed for misappropriation of funds.

Reference is made to the minute number PALUSP/AE: 101562 dated 25th September, 2018 on the subject above. I wish to inform you that the Civil Service Commission acting in the name and on behalf of His Excellency the President, has directed that Ms Grace Mwenya Zimba, Principal Accountant be dismissed from the public service with effect from a current date for misconduct, unethical conduct and misappropriation of government funds in accordance with Section 21(a)(v) of the Disciplinary Code and procedures for handling offences in the public service,” read the dismissal letter in part.

“The Public Service Commission has also directed that the misappropriated government funds be recovered from her terminal benefits. Kindly inform Ms Zimba of the Commission’s directives accordingly.”

The other letters for the other dismissed officials read like wise and copied to the Auditor General and the Accountant General among other government department heads.

According to sources, Lombe has not yet availed himself before a disciplinary hearing.

“The deputy PS hasn’t been very cooperative when it comes to appearing for the disciplinary hearing. That’s how come there’s no action on him yet,” said the sources.