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DEFENCE AUDITGATE: MINISTER EXPLAINS

By OLIVER SAMBOKO 

The Office of the Auditor General has been too overwhelmed with its work that the Ministry of Finance and National Planning was compelled to hire two private auditing firms to audit the books of accounts for the country’s defence and security wings, Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane has explained.

Dr Musokotwane was yesterday put under intense crossfire for hiring two private audit firms, Grant Thornton and Price Water and Coopers House to undertake the auditing of the books of accounts for Zambia’s Defense and Security Wings against the advice of the Office of the Auditor General.

Several Members of Parliament (MPs) wondered why the new dawn government had decided to spend K16 Million to contract Grant Thornton, PricewaterhouseCoopersHouse and other private firms to audit the Ministry of defense when the Office of the Auditor General had the capacity to undertake the assignment.

Leader of opposition in parliament, Brian Mundubile said the laws on the procedure on auditing of the Defence Forces were very clear and therefore should be followed to the letter.

He said the law on auditing defence forces did not isolate whether one supplied Kapenta, mealie meal or military equipment. 

Mr Mundubile said government should be clear and explain on whether the Auditor General contracted the private firms to audit the defence and security wings with express permission from President Hakainde Hichilema as provided by the law.

And Shiwang’andu MP Stephen Kampyongo wondered why it had taken a long time for the  Finance Minister to explain why private firms were engaged to audit the Defense forces which he said was making citizens to find it difficult to believe government explanations.

Mr Kampyongo who is Opposition Chief Whip said while it was important to follow the trail of public resources, it was wrong to engage private firm to intrude into the books of the country’s Defence Force Units.

He said contracting of private firms was a waste of public resources considering that there was a directorate under the Office of the Auditor General that was responsible for specialised audits. 

But the Ministry of Finance and National Planning said government had complied with all the procurement procedures and that according to him, the Office of the Auditor General had authorised the hiring of the two private firms.

Dr Musokotwae has claimed that the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) has been overwhelmed with the volume of the work and that is why the Ministry of Finance decided to hire the two private firms to undertake audits in the country’s defence and security wings.

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