AUDITOR General Dr Dick Sichembe has observed that people want his office to be able to prosecute, but argues that his institution “cannot be everything”.
Meanwhile, Dr Sichembe says his office might start out sourcing certain services in order to mitigate its low staffing levels.
In an interview, Dr Sichembe said a joint working group inter-agency collaboration with law enforcement agencies had been established in order to allow the Office of the Auditor General to present what auditors believed were prosecutable cases.
“Our office’s responsibility is to ensure that we bring to the fore that these are the challenges that we have and the people or institutions facing, these problems are the following. People need to raise their voices and call to action in order to hold to account on the management of public resources. People want the Office of the Auditor General to prosecute but we cannot be everything. We have performed our duty with the elaborate processes and we give the information to the public. The National Prosecution Authority, Zambia Police, DEC and ACC they have got their role to play in this,” Dr Sichembe said.
“What we will do in future, and we have started discussing with our colleagues, is that we have got a joint working group inter-agency collaboration. The Drug Enforcement Commission, ACC, and the police including ZPPA, we have an MoU. We will be going to present what we feel from our understanding as auditors that these are prosecutable cases and give them. We may find a mechanism to share this information and we have to consult. This is to ensure that you are aware that the Office of the Auditor General has presented this information to these institutions. Apart from us presenting information in an open forum like the report is out and known to all people, it is important that we do that.”
Dr Sichembe said the Office of the Auditor General might need to start outsourcing some services owing to the limited human resource.
“The organisation and the levels of staff, we are less than 700. All the staff at the Office of the Auditor General, which includes the auditors and the support staff. You can see the mammoth task that we have. Our office is responsible for central government. We are responsible for parastatals and other bodies which are more than 500. This is where we find ZESCO, ZAFFICO among others,” said Dr Sichembe.
“We are responsible for audit which is another tier of 116 local authorities. So you can see the number and the magnitude of the work we do. We have restructured our office and we are just waiting for authority and we will increase but we are alive to the fact that resources may not allow. We are innovative and we may need to start outsourcing some of the services. We can get maybe private auditors to do certain work and we do it on parastatals. We can supervise them and use their reports.”