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Auditor General has powers to appoint external auditors to audit state organs with the President’s consent, says LAZ

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THE Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) says the Auditor General has powers to appoint external auditors under section 10 of the Public Audit Act, No.29 of 2016 to audit any state organs and state bodies.

This follows a public discourse on the private audit of Defence Forces.

Last week, some opposition members of Parliament walked out of the National Assembly during a question and answer session accusing Vice President Mutale Nalumango of having failed to give an answer regarding the decision to engage private firms to audit the Ministry of Defence and National Security Services.

Leader of opposition, Brian Mundubile asked Vice President Mutale Nalumango on why three different positions on private auditing companies have been engaged to audit the Ministry of defence and and NationalSecurity Services.

Mr Mundubile stated that the Public Audit Act Section 24(3) prohibits consultants, agents and private auditors from accessing books, records and documents or entering the premises of the  Defence and National Security Services.

He demanded evidence to show that Part VII section 73(3) of the Public Finance Management Act No. 1 of 2018 was complied with.

However, LAZ president Lungizani Zulu says despite the general power to appoint external auditors, the Auditor General’s authority to subcontract the audit of the Defence Forces is limited by the provisions of section 24(3) of the said Public Audit Act, No. 29 of 2016.

He said the provisions expressly enjoins the Auditor General not to permit any authorised person, agent or specialist consultant to have access to any book, record, returns report or other document, or to enter the premises of any component of the defence force, national security services or a law enforcement agency.

Mr Zulu said the restriction on access to records of the Defence Force is re-echoed under the provisions of section 73(2) of the Public Finance Management Act, No. 1 of 2018.

“These provisions are aimed at ensuring that the security of the nation is not compromised.

However, the Auditor General can only appoint external auditors to audit the defence forces where circumstances of an audit justify such subcontracting, and additionally, the prior written consent of the President, authorizing access by external auditors is obtained.

This is provided under section 73(3) of the Public Finance Management Act, No. 1 of 2018 and the preconditions are meant to safeguard national security,” Mr Zulu said.

He said it is LAZ’s considered position that the subcontracting of the external auditors to audit the defence forces is legal if it was done by the Auditor General following the President’s prior written consent.

Mr  Zulu said the Auditor General is required to satisfy the President that national security would not be compromised by the access, before the President can grant such written consent.

“This press release has been issued on a matter of public interest regarding the security of the nation, compliance with relevant public finance management laws as well as the observance of rule of law for the greater good of the Nation in furtherance of the LAZ’s mandate under Section 4 of the Law Association of Zambia Act,Chapter 31 of the Laws of Zambia,” he said.

(Mwebantu, Tuesday, 22nd November, 2022)

Politics

Katanga gets K100,000 bail, asked to surrender passport

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FORMER Deputy Inspector General of Police Charity Katanga has been granted K100, 000 bail pending determination of her appeal in the High Court.

As part of the bail conditions, Lusaka chief resident magistrate Davies Chibwili asked Katanga to provide two sureties each bound to K500, 000, in their own recognisance.

Last Monday, February 19, magistrate Chibwili convicted and sentenced Katanga to three years simple imprisonment for possession of 10 High Buses worth K26million, deemed to be proceeds of crime.

The convict immediately filed a notice of intention to appeal against the verdict. She also applied for bail pending determination of the appeal.

In her bail application, she submitted that her appeal has high prospects of success in the High Court.

Katanga submitted that if bail is not granted, she feared she may serve a substantial part of her sentence because it may take long for her appeal to be concluded.

But the State opposed the application for bail, arguing that prospects of her appeal succeeding were dim.

But in his ruling on bail application, Mr Chibwili said it was important that Katanga be granted bail, so that she can exercise her constitutional right no matter how hopeless he may think of the appeal’s success prospects.

He noted that from the examination of those documents and the grounds of appeal “and what I have seen as evidence in the record” it is very difficult for him to say that there are prospects of the Katanga’s appeal succeeding.

“I may say so because having considered the evidence as a whole, I felt confident that it was safe to convict her on that evidence. The High Court, however, may see the same evidence and come to a different conclusion”.

He said in the interest of justice and after giving Katanga a benefit of a doubt, the accused woulf be granted bail.

The magistrate also ordered her to surrender her passport.

After hearing, Katanga was taken back to the detention and would only be set free after meeting the bail conditions.

(Mwebantu, Friday, 1st March, 2024)

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President Hichilema declares prolonged dry spell a national disaster and emergency

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PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema has declared the prolonged dry drought spell as a National Disaster and Emergency.

Addressing the nation, President Hichilema said the destruction caused by the prolonged dry spell is immense, stating that nearly 84 out of the 156 districts are affected.

He disclosed that at a national level, out of the estimated planted area of 2.2 million hectares, one million hectares have been destroyed by the drought.

The Head of State said the dry spell is projected to continue into the month of March and beyond what is normal, adding that there is no doubt that over a million households will be affected.

“This is a situation we are facing in the country, fellow citizens in view of this, we have taken a decisive decision as a government, in accordance with the Disaster Management Act of Number 13 of 2010 and other relevant legislation, I hereby declare the prolonged dry drought spell as National Disaster and Emergency,” President Hichilema said.

He added that the energy sector has also been affected and the country is expected to have a deficit of close to 450 megawatts of electricity this year.

“The current drought has also affected both surface and ground water, which will also compound disease burden. However, we shall overcome, in Eastern province when I went to Nc’wala they called it the triple tragedy, they composed a song that HH wavutika, Mpezeni twavutika, twachoka mu COVID, twangena mu cholera, twachoka mu cholera twangena mu chilala,” he said.
The President however said government will undertake many actions to mitigate the challenge.

He said among the short term measures, include the channelling of more resources towards humanitarian relief services to ensure that affected citizens do not go hungry.

“We shall look at importing additional electricity and rationing electricity as is necessary and will also promote alternative energy sources and that citizens do not engage in negative behaviour such as burning bushes. Will work to ensure that additional maize and other foods are brought in the country or mopped around within the country whenever they are to address the deficit,” President Hichilema said.

The President further directed the defence forces to get involved in food production.
“We leverage the use of the Zambia defence forces. I direct all the defence forces to be involved in food production and create platforms for a longer term solution to drought,” he said.

(Mwebantu, Thursday, 29th February, 2024)

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Politics

Sakwiba lied about UKA finger print procession, police say

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POLICE in Lusaka have dispelled allegations by United Liberal Party leader ,Sakwiba Sikota that he submitted finger print forms for the procession of opposition movement, United Kwacha Alliance (UKA).

Mr Sikota is believed to have given the misinformation when he appeared on the Red Hot Breakfast show on Tuesday, February 27th, 2024.

Police spokesperson Rae Hamoonga has however, said procession of finger prints for UKA were incomplete.

“The Zambia Police Service wishes to address recent misinformation that was aired on the Red Hot Breakfast Show yesterday February 27, 2024 , alleging that Mr Sakwiba Sikota had submitted fingerprint forms for the procession as part of the registration process for the United Kwacha Alliance at the Zambia Police Service Headquarters.”

“The facts surrounding this matter are as follows: Today (yesterday), February 28, 2024, at 16:10 hours, Mr Sakwiba Sikota, accompanied by Mr Silawve, presented incomplete forms required for the partial fulfillment of the registration process. Contrary to the information aired, the fingerprint forms were not handed in on an earlier date, as suggested,” he said.

Mr Hamoonga said upon examination of the presented forms, it was determined that they were incomplete.

He said as per the established procedures, Mr Sikota and colleague were advised to rectify the deficiencies and resubmit the correct and complete documentation.

“We would like to emphasize the importance of truthfulness and accuracy in communication, particularly when it involves matters of national interest. It is crucial for eminent personalities like Mr. Sakwiba Sikota to be truthful and the media to verify information with the concerned authorities before disseminating it to the public,” he said.

Mr Hamoonga reiterated the call by police for responsible reporting and communication, urging individuals and media outlets to adhere to the principles of accuracy and verification.

He added that the dissemination of falsehoods on matters of national importance may result in legal consequences, including prosecution against those found to be in violation.

(Mwebantu, Thursday, 29th February, 2024)

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