Mayor of Lusaka City Miles Sampa has disclosed that the Auditor General’s office has instituted a probe into alleged abuse of funds by City Market management following his letter to the Town Clerk about undeclared revenues.
And Sampa says the reluctance by City Market management to contribute the required revenue to the local authority is affecting operations at Lusaka City Council.
In an interview, Sampa said officers from the Auditor General’s office had already started investigating the misapplication of funds at the market.
In his letter to the Town Clerk dated April 2, 2020, Sampa expressed disappointment that out of K13, 626, 242. 12 that City Market collected in 2019, only K60, 000 was remitted to the Civic Center main account.
“I wrote to the town clerk, I first researched in the council and books to see how much was deposited from City Market versus what they had reported was generated in 2019. So, noticed that they was a huge difference and that the figures don’t make sense; there is so much revenue realised and only a little bit was brought to the council. The rest is for auditors to verify. I am aware that auditors from the Auditor General’s Office have moved in on City Market, so they are doing the audit. Central government has responded quickly. What we are going to do as council, we are going to sit as Councillors, that is what the law says,” Sampa said.
He said the failure by the City Market management to remit all realised revenue from the trading facility was hampering smooth operations of the local authority.
“What City Market was doing, they were paying workers in advance; they give themselves advances and loans and they hold on to the money. And they were at liberty, they employ whoever they want and us who have support staff at the council like council police and cleaners and then we have no income for our workers. You will find that workers at council are delayed four months, and myself where I hardly get paid. So, if whatever they collect, they use it as they please and us we have to plead with them, we end up where we are,” Sampa added.
“That is City Market manager [Mwenya Matafwali]…when I heard he was refusing to give money to the council, I was calling him to release money to fix the dry port because we needed to get the cross border buses to be out of Intercity but then, there was no water; there there were no toilets working, there was no power, so we needed cash and the finance director told me that his account at Civic Center hard no money. So, I told him to ask Intercity and City Market to release some money. Intercity released a K20, 000 I think, then when I asked them about City Market, they said there was no response from the manager. That is why I called him and told him ‘you release the money, send at least 20[,000 kwacha]’, that was in the morning. In the night, I called him, he was dodging around. Now today, I hear he is saying that I wrote that letter because he refused to give me money for my pockets, that is very childish. So because he refused, I have to tell you that over the weekend, I had to deep into my pockets because trucks were coming now.”
He further said the council would also audit revenues being remitted by Lumumba Bus Station.
“I may send in auditors from the council, our auditing committee led by councillor George Daka, Councillor of Lusaka Central…I have asked the committee of Councillors which is meant to audit assets and liabilities…if the can move in on Lumumba Bus Station and verify the figures. I have asked our legal department headed by councillor Jonas Phiri of Kamulanga in Kabwata and the legal team, if there is a legal way we can come out of the issue of the board at Lumumba Bus Station. If it is not benefiting the people of Lusaka, then it is worth it,” said Sampa.
“The board has been there maybe for six year or seven years or more but I can tell you that if we go into figures, what that board at Lumumba has given to the council…you will find it is negligible, below one per cent like city market. So while I am mayor, it is my duty that our departments of the council are performing and they are contributing money. Without money at the council, we can’t pay workers.”