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Foreign Affairs official named in loan scandal at Zambian Embassy in BelgiumBy Sipilisiwe Ncube on 20 Dec 2018
News Diggers! findings have revealed that the former Diplomat who owes a Belgium Bank 40,000.00 Euros, about K546,000, as revealed in the Auditors Generals report is currently working as Personal Assistant to Permanent Secretary, Ronald Simwiinga at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Alice Chisala who was Second Secretary when she entered into an agreement with the Belgian ING Bank, was recalled last year leaving her K546,000 debt unpaid.
“It was observed that at the time of her return to Zambia, the officer was owing a local bank an amount of 40,000 Euros, equivalent to K546, 000, arising from a loan she obtained from the bank. A scrutiny of records revealed that the matter of settling the outstanding amount of 40, 000 Euros had been presented to Ministry of Finance by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for possible funding. However, as at 31st August 2018, ,the funds had not been sent to the Mission to settle the loan,” Simwiinga submitted to the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, Monday.
But News Diggers has learnt that the officer in question is actually the personal assistant to the PS who was making submissions to PAC.
“Although the Zambian Mission in Belgium has taken over the liability and expected to pay the debt with help from the Ministry of Finance, government has not recovered the money from Chisala, but has instead redeployed her at the Foreign Affairs Ministry where she is serving as Personal Assistant to Simwiinga”, said a highly placed government source.
“This is the diplomat who caused the Zambian Embassy in Belgium to be cited in the Auditor General’s report. The bank may stop dealing with the Zambian Embassy and its diplomats in Brussels. You don’t expect her to work in the office of the Permanent Secretary. Chisala’s debt of K546,000.00 is the largest amount ever that a Zambian Diplomat has left unsettled in a foreign country.”
Members of the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) heard on Monday that the Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary tried to ask the Ministry of Finance to settle the loan on behalf of Mrs Chisala but the Finance Ministry has refused to do so.
It was also revealed that Mrs. Chisala would pay back the loan in 83 years but members of the PAC where at pains to understand the repayment modalities, arguing that the time frame was too over stretched as the officer would have retired from the civil service by then.
Former Ambassador to Belgium, Grace Kabwe left K62,517 and K32,857 unpaid monies accrued through medical insurance and damages to the official residence.
Simwiinga told PAC that recoveries of the monies owed by Kabwe had been effected through the Casualty Notification Form upon payment of gratuity.
About Sipilisiwe Ncube
Sipilisiwe Ncube is a Zambian journalist with a background in radio news.
Email: sipilisiwe [at] diggers [dot] news
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