ALLIANCE for Community Action (ACA) says it is unfortunate that government is making the work of the Auditor General seem like an academic exercise given the poor support given at policy level.
And ACA says they will be holding a virtual protest this Friday against those involved in the Ministry of Health scandals, demanding prosecution.
On Tuesday, Auditor General Dick Sichembe revealed that the recently destroyed expired drugs were actually highlighted in his 2016 report, asking relevant government agencies to act more swiftly on his work to safe guard people’s lives.
Commenting on this in an interview, ACA senior information and advocacy officer Jimmy Maliseni said it was unfortunate that the work of the Auditor General was being made academic due to lack of timely action.
“What this means for us is that this particular government is again making the work of the Auditor General academic which is very unfortunate. The Auditor General’s office is a constitutional office and given the provisions of the 2016 Constitution as amended, according to Act No.2 of 2016 there is supposed to be in the country the National Audit Committee which essentially is supposed to provide oversight over the Office of the Auditor General and within those same provisions, the Office of the Auditor General has been given powers in the constitution to recommend for prosecution on matters that they dim to be criminal in nature. So what we would love to see is for the actualisation of those provisions in the constitution. It’s very likely that to be fully operationalised, they would require amendment of the subsidiary laws under which the Auditor General operates. Nonetheless, at any given point in a country, the constitution still is the supreme law of the land and that provision as it sits is sufficient for the Auditor General to make recommendations for criminal prosecution for those cases that they deem to be criminal in nature. That is one of the things we would like to see,” Maliseni said.
He, however, said the Office of the Auditor General was doing a good job despite lack of support from line ministries which were often flagged in its reports.
“Away from the office of the Auditor General whom we see are doing a good job but what is missing is support from their supervisors at the policy level and by their supervisors I mean the line ministers as specifically those whose ministries are being constantly flagged, in this case the Ministry of Health and so we would like to see that support given to office of the Auditor General,” Maliseni said.
“We heard that the Minister of Health has threatened to fire officers from what is now ZAMMSA, so we don’t think that that goes far enough, what the minister should have been saying is to report those people to the Anti-Corruption Commission, to report them to the office of the Auditor General to have a forensic audit performed and to have them prosecuted, not to be fired because if people have abused public resources and all you do is relieve them of their duties, that does not send a good example in terms of accountability.”
And Maliseni announced that ACA would this Friday hold a virtual protest against those involved in the scandals at the Ministry of Health.
“As an organisation, this is a matter that we take very seriously and so you will probably see that we are organising a virtual protest. So in view of the prevailing COVID-19 situation…we are calling all citizens to come out from 08:00 hours to 17:00 hours on Friday which is the 12th of February 2021. So we are calling on citizens to hold placards in their homes, in their spaces, in their clinics where they have been denied insulin and where they have lost loved ones…basically we are calling on all everybody who is involved in this scandal to not only be dismissed but prosecuted to the very last person concerned or involved,” said Maliseni.