Friday, March 14, 2008
By Mwala Kalaluka
Friday March 14, 2008 [03:00]
MINISTRY of Home Affairs Permanent Secretary Susan Sikatena yesterday said management of public funds in the Zambia Police Service leaves much to be desired. Appearing before PAC to explain unconstitutional expenditure cited in the report of the Auditor General for the 2006 financial year, Sikaneta said measures were being put in place to reverse the weak financial management systems in the police.
“One thing that I would like to mention is that the system at Zambia Police, the way it has been functioning, leaves much to be desired. I have taken this to the attention of the Secretary to the Treasury,” she said.
Sikaneta said when it comes to management of public funds within the Police Service, she was just a controlling officer by name and on paper. “That is why there have been so many problems in the police,” Sikaneta complained.
“All the monies that are sent to the police do not go through the controlling officer, they go straight to the police.”She asked PAC to help her ensure that she was given a strong mandate to oversee matters of financial management within the Zambia Police.
Sikaneta said the K2.9 billion unconstitutional expenditure that was accrued in 2006 was as a consequence of the urgent need to buy vehicles for the police during the 2006 general elections.
“We have taken note of the observation of the Auditor General and we will be able to apply to the Ministry of Finance to allow this amount as excess expenditure so that it can come in the appropriation bill for 2006,” she said.
Sikaneta said they would ensure that the police and any other departments within the Ministry of Home Affairs spent within the budget.
Milupi asked Sikaneta to explain why the money supposedly for procuring the motor vehicles for the 2006 general election in the Police Service were not budgeted for.
“Our worry as a committee is that when the executive knows certain events that are going to happen and does not follow the constitution, it is as if they want to circumvent our constitutional provision,” Milupi said.
However, the Ministry of Home Affairs’ chief accountant Jessy Nkhoma, said a supplementary provision raised in view of the unconstitutional expenditure was submitted late and was therefore not captured.
Milupi also said the committee was worried that similar issues might surface in the 2007 financial reports and in subsequent years if they were not brought to an end.
Responding to the concerns, Sikaneta said she was doing everything possible to address the problems.
She said it was also regrettable that the traffic section at Livingstone Central Police decided to divert revenue amounting to about K37 million without treasury authority.
“We are monitoring very carefully and seriously and anybody found wanting will be brought to book,” she said.
And Milupi said he was concerned with the state of affairs at Interpol Headquarters, where K230 million was stolen by an officer by the name of Agrippa Zulu, who also misappropriated K167 million the following year.
He said it was frightening that senior officers were helping themselves to public funds.
But Sikaneta said everything was being done to recover the misappropriated funds because simply reverting the erring officers to other duties and deducting from their salaries would amount to converting the stolen money into a loan.
“What we are doing is to go for prosecution,” she said. “Agrippa Zulu has been arrested, prosecuted and is in court and we believe the evidence against him is so overwhelming and chances are that he is going to be convicted.”