Prosecute plunderers of national coffers-CARITAS

CARITAS Zambia has expressed concern on the current revelations by the Auditor General’s report that millions of public funds were either misused or unscrupulously pocketed. Caritas has since demanded that Government should publicly state what measures and actions it would put in place to ensure that such financial misuse did not occur again. Caritas has charged that Parliamentary Public Accounts Committees should seriously hold Government to account for its actions and intentions with regards to the AG revelations. “We wonder how controlling officers from the ministries involved can allow, K115,350,860 of irregular payments K251,523,804 of undelivered goods, K12,659,892 unretired accountable imprest and K 558,449 unaccounted funds. “This is the highest financial indiscipline that should not be tolerated by any tax payer in Zambia. Public servants and policy makers are stewards of Zambia’s public resources and so abrogation of financial laws with impunity as stated by the 2015 Auditor General’s report, resulting in revenue loss and financial misuse, demands action not words of reprimand,” read the statement in part. Caritas stated that as if the misappropriation of public resources by civil servants was not enough, there was the question of money laundering and other financial crimes being committed. It said not too long ago, the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) reported about $3 billion as having been laundered or stolen from the economy. “This really compounds the problem and Government must take stronger measures in protecting public finances in Zambia,” it said Caritas said over the years, Zambia had been losing billions of kwacha which had been reported by the Auditor General’s office but Government had never taken any practical action to stop this perennial financial irregularities. “The continued mismanagement of public resources if not curtailed would undermine the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and would continue to damage the social and economic fabric of our society,” the statement said. It explained that the continued diversion of funds would continue to affect the provision of key services such as health, education and developmental projects. “We hope the PF government stands on the principles that civil servants are appointed on merit through open competition rather than patronage, with core value of integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality (including political impartiality). As such we expect that the government institute disciplinary measures and take action on the revelations of the Auditor General report,” the statement said Caritas stated that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) should play their role in bringing those found culpable to account for their actions. It said Parliament should re-assess its oversight mechanism and ensure that its recommendations were implemented. “Most importantly, those officers responsible for loss of public resources should be held to account for their omissions or commissions,” read the statement.