Audit fuel, maize donations by Sata

The Auditor General Anna Chifungula has been challenged to immediately audit and investigate the fuel and maize donations made by President Sata to ensure that the resources used were fully accounted for and to ascertain if these were made under the laws of Zambia.

President Sata on behalf of government donated 5 million liters of oil worth more than US$5 million to Malawi, he also donated K50 million to a school in Botswana and last week President Mugabe announced that Zambia, through the President would provide 150,000 tonnes of maize worth US$25 million.

Opposition and civil society members have charged that it was irresponsible that subsidies were being removed while the president was giving away maize and fuel paid for by Zambians. This was being done on terms personally negotiated by the President contrary to procedure and that this was taking place at a time when citizens were being asked to pay more for the products.

They also want her to investigate why Zambia is buying oil through the most expensive agents instead of cheaper sources. This is not good stewardship of public resources,” they have charged.

They want to know if the oil was paid for and if so into which account and how the account has been managed. Unless the investigation is undertaken, civil society intend to seek judicial review.

Announcing the maize deal involving 150,000 tonnes of maize worth US$25 million president Mugabe said “When I was talking to him (President Sata) about what we had in mind about paying, he said ‘no, no, no’. He is a humorous man as you know,” Mugabe told a conference in Harare on Thursday to launch the Food and Nutrition Security Policy and Implementation Plan.

“He said ‘let’s have the food in the stomachs of our people first, and when we have the food in the stomachs, then we will talk about the price’ and I said ‘that is a great man, he shares our affliction’.”

Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD) president Charles Milupi, said that it was an impulsive and un-researched decision President Michael Sata made to donate US$5 million worth of fuel to Malawi which was now haunting the Patriotic Front (PF) government.

Mr. Milupi said that Zambians were now meant to pay for what he called a reckless donation which did not have any economic meaning to the country.

He said he has since asked the Auditor General Annie Chifungula to audit how the fuel was donated to Malawi and its impact to the Zambian economy which was now struggling to address the removal of fuel subsidy.

And a Political Activist Brebner Changala said that the Auditor General like in the case of Zambia Railways Limited Chief Executive Officer Clive Chirwa must move in and audit President Sata and ascertain the true value, impact and effect of the donation on the country’s economy. Mr. Changala also wanted to know whether the donations were legal and if so what chapters of the law the President was using to plunder national resources.

“What example is it giving to civil servants who are facing corruption charges? Is this the best way of fighting corruption by engaging illegalities. President Sata must show proof that both recipients countries had requested for assistance or was it done in confusion,” said Mr. Changala.

And UPND president Hakainde Hichilema said that President Sata had abused his powers to dictate the removal of fuel and maize subsidy when his government claimed that the country had enough for consumption and export.In an interview, both opposition leaders demanded for an immediate audit on how fuel was donated to Malawi without a proper economic analysis it would have on the country in the near future.

“This government is running broke, it has finished all the money it found in the reserve and no wonder today Mr. Sata without proper understanding of things, he has failed to explain the rationale of the fuel subsidy. There is no removal of subsidy because fuel is the most taxed commodity in this country and it doesn’t make any economic sense to remove subsidy on something already taxed. They should just tell the people of Zambia the truth that they have pushed the price up to recover the money they lost in that unholy donation if at all they donated to Malawi,” said Mr. Milupi.Mr. Milupi who is also former chairperson for the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) said that the PF government had unreasonably promoted by-elections which had hit them so hard on the treasury, which had resulted into punishing people through taxing them heavily by increasing commodities such as fuel and maize.