TRANSPARENCY International Zambia (TIZ) has called on Minister of Mines Richard Musukwa to call for a forensic audit and investigation into allegations of financial impropriety involving Konkola Copper Mines Provisional Liquidator Milingo Lungu.

And TIZ says it is a great injustice to the Zambian people for the government to allocate huge amounts to public infrastructure and other supply contracts only for these amounts to be lost through corruption.

In a statement to News Digggers, Wednesday, Chapter president Rueben Lifuka, said if KCM was still a private entity, it would be allowed to conduct its business in the manner it wished, but since the Zambian government had taken over, it opens it up to public scrutiny.

“We have noted with concern recent news articles which suggest impropriety on the part of the Provisional Liquidator for Konkola Copper Mines – Mr. Milingo Lungu. The reported incident involving a transaction of sale of a company called Cashfin to Mr. Lungu on a promise of future KCM supply contracts, if true, is worrying and needs to be urgently investigated. Trading in influence and abuse of office are serious forms of corruption and it is important that necessary action against all perpetrators,” he said.

“We are mindful of the fact that when News Diggers reported on this matter, KCM called the story malicious without providing any alternative information. This unfortunately does not help clear the perceptions and concerns of the public that something untoward is happening at KCM. Ordinarily, KCM as a private entity would probably be entitled to conduct business in the manner it wishes, but the fact that the Zambian government has taken over and appointed a Provisional Liquidator, opens it up to public scrutiny.”

He challenged Milingi to provide answers to lingering questions around the KCM saga.

“There are a number of obvious questions which continue to linger even after the media statement by KCM. For instance, is it true that KCM awarded a K1.6 million contract for Heavy Fuel Oils to Cashfin after ownership had purportedly changed hands? What procurement procedures were employed to select the said company? What experience does this company have to execute this supply contract? And what is the realistic amount for supply of HFO if indeed this contract included amounts to settle the balance for the acquisition of Cashfin? Are such reported procurement activities commonplace at KCM or is this the first of its kind?” he wondered.

“There are definitely many more concerns which can only be answered with the help of a forensic audit and investigations into any alleged wrong doings. We urge the Minister of Mines – Hon Musukwa and Government to urgently address this issue. Additionally, it is important that the Minister of Mines appraises the nation on the status of KCM. There is worrying speculation that KCM is now a gravy train for politically exposed persons. It therefore raises the question what progress if any has been made to finalise the KCM story so that the Zambian people can start to benefit from this venture through increased job opportunities, additional tax payments, corporate social responsibility etc.”

And Lifuka noted a growing trend of misuse of public resources in the country.

“Generally, we want to take advantage of this opportunity to underline our concern at the apparent misuse of public procurement in this country. PF cadres and those associated with the party are being given special preference for award of public contracts even when they do not qualify. This political patronage will get worse particularly now with the economic malaise the nation is going through and we want to warn that this corruption should not be allowed to fester. Government should ensure good financial stewardship of the scarce resources and we cannot afford to lose public resources to ill qualified cadres who fail to deliver on contracts,” said Lifuka.

“It is a matter of great injustice to the Zambian people for the government to allocate huge amounts to public infrastructure and other supply contracts only for these amounts to be lost through corruption. If the Government is serious about fighting corruption, it has to stop this leakage of public resources through contracts given to dubious characters. It has to stop the deliberate over-invoicing and over pricing of goods and services- we want to see a clean up of all sectors including food supplies to public institutions which for a long time has been abused. Fighting corruption is not just about talk, it is about concrete actions. Fighting corruption is not about sounding sanctimonious when challenged, but consistently demonstrating how all concerns are being followed up and resolved.”