Thursday, October 07, 2010

Mongu mayor impeached for demanding probe into abused funds

COMMENT - I absolutely commend Mayor Dawn Mumbwe for her actions. It is often said that there is as much corruption at the council level as there is at the national level. However, this example proves that there are many more eyes on the money at the local level than there are at the national and ministerial level. Can anyone in the ministries or parliament call for the impeachment of any government minister or the president because of embezzlement of funds? So bravo to Mongu's Mayor Dawn Mumbwe.

Mongu mayor impeached for demanding probe into abused funds
By Mwala Kalaluka
Thu 07 Oct. 2010, 04:00 CAT

NEWLY-elected Mongu Mayor Dawn Mumbwe has been ‘impeached’ for insisting that town clerk Frank Kalenga should temporarily vacate office to allow for a probe in recent audit revelations that highlighted rampant abuse of funds at the MMD-dominated local authority.

But Western Province minister Sikwibele Mwapela has warned that the MMD would lose the Mongu Central seat to the opposition if moves to discuss the audit report continued to be blocked.

Mumbwe confirmed in an interview that she was interdicted during a special council meeting she called to discuss the findings of an audit and inspection report covering the period September 2009 to April 2010 undertaken by an auditor from the Western Province Local Government Office.

Mumbwe said the special full council meeting was held in the Mongu Council chamber on October 2, 2010 to discuss the above audit and inspection report that implicated Kalenga and other council officers in the mismanagement of council funds and government grants.

She said before the meeting in question, Mongu Central MMD parliamentarian and deputy defence minister Joseph Mulyata called her and told her to stop pushing for the special council meeting to discuss the audit report. “He called me and threatened me that ‘Ms Mumbwe, if you continue calling for the special council meeting it will backfire on you and we are going to impeach you’ and it has happened,” Mumbwe said.

“I have been interdicted. I am still a Mayor but I have been interdicted. I was interdicted on the 2nd of October because instead of bringing the audit report, the town clerk prepared a document showing that I had abused my office.”

Mumbwe said grounds on which she was interdicted were that she had abused her office when she asked Kalenga through a letter dated September 17, 2010 to vacate office and hand-over the keys to her following his defiance in notifying the councillors of the special council meeting to discuss the audit report.

Another ground that was that Mumbwe lifted the suspension of a councillor who challenged Mulyata to explain the misapplication of Constituency Development Funds (CDF) in Mongu Central.

The document further stated that Mumbwe, who was elected as Mayor on September 8, 2010, had breached her oath of office when she allegedly divulged to the public the audit and inspection report before it could be considered by the council.

Mumbwe said during the special council meeting where she was interdicted, Mulyata chased some members of the public that came to follow the discussion on the audit report.

“Some stakeholders who were inside when they realised that it was not the about the audit report, they walked out,” Mumbwe said. “Currently workers have stayed for six months without being paid.”

Mumbwe said local government permanent secretary Timothy Hakuyu directed Mongu Council to discuss the audit report and send recommendations to his office but that Kalenga and the director of finance a Muyapekwa responded to the report and sent recommendations without the input from the councillors.

Mumbwe has since called on the Ministry of Local Government to constitute a different body to discuss the audit report and ignore Kalenga’s unilateral response.

But Mwapela, who is also MMD provincial secretary, has advised Mulyata not to block the deliberations on the audit report.

Mwapela said it was disappointing that MMD councillors were failing to work together and he asked Mulyata to be in the forefront and meet with the councillors to discuss the audit report.

“If the council has not done anything wrong, there is nothing to hide,” said Mwapela. “We are heading for election; if he continues with that kind of confusion, MMD will lose that seat, Mongu Central.”

Efforts to get a comment from Mulyata proved futile by press time.

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