PUBLIC Accounts Committee (PAC) chairperson Warren Mwambazi says it is not the role of the Committee to write directly to former controlling officers adding that an invitation from current officer bearers is sufficient enough.
Former Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) National Coordinator Chanda Kabwe defied PAC’s last call to appear before the Committee, claiming he could not appear before them without a formal invitation.
But in an interview, Wednesday, Mwambazi said the PAC would write to Speaker of the National Assembly Nelly Mutti requesting that Chanda be summoned to appear before the Parliamentary Privileges Committee.
“We will now write to the Speaker of the National Assembly to let her know what transpired. Our witness, even despite being written to, has defied the instructions of the Committee. The Speaker will write to the aforesaid former government officer and then in turn that person will appear before the Privileges Committee to answer why. Accounting officers are accountable whether they are in and out of office. That is according to the Public Finance Act of 2018. So you do not cease to be accountable to the government,” Mwambazi said.
“This is also going to the current controlling officer, they should know that they are accountable now and when they are out of office. They can be summoned about how they appropriated public resources on behalf of the people. Our mandate as Public Accounts Committee is to summon everybody regardless of their affiliation, to come and explain how they executed their duties. We will provide the needed oversight to the Executive and ensure that Zambians have access to all their public resources.”
Mwambazi said the PAC had powers to summon anyone.
“He claims that he was not written to. We did sanction DMMU through the NC’s office who did write to him. The Secretary to the Cabinet did write to him but he claims to have not received a correspondence. For us now, that is water under the bridge. We will follow the guidelines and ensure that what needs to be done is done. Our procedure is we write to DMMU and the current coordinator,” said Mwambazi.
“Where there are lapses and they cannot explain, then we call the former controlling officer to help the current controlling officer to explain how they conducted themselves. It is as simple as that. So we do write then they write then in turn they write and invite. It is not our role as PAC to write directly to those controlling officers. We write to our client who is the current coordinator who in turn invites his predecessor to come and appear before the Committee. And we have powers as the Committee to summon anyone.”
Since Monday, DMMU has been appearing before the PAC to respond to various queries cited in the Auditor General’s report, one of them which includes the procurement of reusable face masks costing K50,450,850 but did not follow the right procedure in identifying suppliers.
At three these sittings, Kabwe opted to stay away citing illness and lack of a formal invitation.