Vice-President Inonge Wina says government is exploring a more comprehensive, cost reflective, transparent and more financially secure system of tracking social cash transfer in a bid to win back confidence and support from cooperating partners.
And Vice-President Wina says government has so far interviewed 56 officers, including two Permanent Secretaries, six directors, and three former directors as part of the investigations into misappropriation of funds meant for the social cash transfer.
Delivering a ministerial statement to Parliament, Tuesday, Vice-President Wina said the development of a good payment tracking system would bring back public confidence and support from co-operating partners for the social cash transfer program.
“In addition to that, the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services in close collaboration with the Smart Zambia Institute are exploring a more comprehensive, cost reflective and transparent and more financially secure system to track social cash transfer payments to beneficiaries across the country. The development of a good payment tracking system will bring back public confidence and support from co-operating partners for the social cash transfer program. Mr Speaker, regarding the issue of how the funds from DFID were used, I wish to state that £2,599,049 from DFID was a part of the funds used for the payment of the social cash transfer beneficiaries in Eastern, Lusaka, Central, Southern and Copper belt provinces,” Vice-President Wina said.
“While £2,762,196 has since been paid back to DFID, Mr Speaker, the government deeply regrets the alleged malpractices in the administration of the Social Cash Transfer funds meant for the vulnerable people in Zambia. I wish to assure the public, the co-operating partners and other stakeholders that appropriate action will be taken on whosoever will be found wanting.”
And Vice-President Wina revealed that government had so far interviewed a total of 56 officers, including two Permanent Secretaries, six directors, and three former directors as part of the investigations into misappropriation money meant for Social cash transfer.
“Mr Speaker, action taken by government to date is as follows; one, on the 20th September 2018, the board of ZAMPOST suspended top management to pave way for a forensic audit. Two, [the] Office of the Auditor General has initiated a forensic audit of social cash transfer program and will provide government with a preliminary report after their visit to ZAMPOST headquarters in Ndola. Three, the Drug Enforcement Commission, Anti-Corruption Commission and Office of the President are presently still carrying out investigations. Four, the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services suspended eight key officers to allow for a speedy administrative investigation. And five, the administrative investigation committee instituted by the ministry and Public Service Management Division has since concluded its sitting,” she said.
“The committee sat for 17 days and interviewed a total of 56 officers among them, two Permanent Secretaries, six directors, and three former directors, provincial and district social welfare officers. It was generally observed that most of the issues that called for the unsuccessful implementation of the contract between ZAMPOST and the Ministry of Community Development were mainly due to poor human interaction, poor communication, and general disregard for the laid down government procedures. It was also observed that ZAMPOST failed to adhere to the provisions of the contract signed with the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services on the 21 August 2017 such as the failure to submit reports and returns, failure to implement an electronic payment system, failure to conduct entrepreneurship training.”
She said the main concern from cooperating partners had been the unavailability of audit reports into the use of funds meant for social cash transfer.
“Mr Speaker, between the months of March and April 2018, officials from the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services, ZAMPOST officials and cooperating partners conducted a few spot checks to selected districts after complaints were received from the beneficiaries in the communities that ZAMPOST was hiding social cash transfer payments. It was during these spot checks that the complaint of the beneficiaries were verified. In order to further address the issues surrounding the implementation of the social cash transfer program, a number of meetings were held at Cabinet Office on the 6th, 13th and 14th of June 2018. Mr Speaker, of the 2nd of August 2018, the contract between Ministry of Community Development and Social Services and ZAMPOST was prematurely terminated due to breach of contractual obligations. However, on the 8th of august 2018, a week later, the decision to terminate the contract was rescinded to allow for further investigations,” Vice-President Wina said.
“Resulting from these events, the release of funds to pay social cash transfer beneficiaries through ZAMPOST was withheld by the cooperating partners awaiting the outcome of the Auditor General’s report. The forensic audit and other investigations. Following this decision to withhold funds, a meeting was held on the 5th of September 2018 at Cabinet office with cooperating partners. During this meeting, government assured the cooperating partners that it was doing everything possible to safeguard the public resources. The main issue with the cooperating partners was the release of the 2017 Auditor General’s report on funds meant for social cash transfer beneficiaries as agreed to in the joint financing agreement.”