Sichilima faces arrest over K122m imprest
FORMER Deputy Minister in the MMD government Gaston Sichilima faces possible arrest following his alleged failure to retire imprest amounting to over K122 million.
Mr Sichilima is alleged to have got K122,716,000 imprest in 2010 to fund his trips to his constituency and other assignments but has failed to retire to date.
This came to light yesterday when Ministry of Home Affairs permanent secretary Maxwell Nkole and his team appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to answer audit queries cited in the 2010 Auditor General’s report.
Mr Nkole said Mr Sichilima is among the seven public officers in his ministry who were issued with imprest amounting to K184,913,000 in 2010, which they have allegedly failed to retire in line with financial regulations, which state that the public officer has to retire imprest within 48 hours.
Bweengwa member of Parliament (MP) Highvie Hamududu (UPND), who chaired the meeting, said it is unfortunate that the controlling officer has failed to take appropriate action against the erring former public officer, who has already received his gratuity after leaving the public service.
Mr Hamududu said Mr Sichilima should have been arrested for financial impropriety arising from the Auditor General’s findings.
“The annual Auditor General’s reports gather dust year after year, even in cases where clear abuse of state resources amounting to billions of Kwacha has been reported. We are very upset that you allowed Mr Sichilima to go without retiring imprest.
“How are you going to make him retire the imprest?” he asked.
Chipangali MP Vincent Mwale (MMD) expressed shock at the continued rampant abuse of public resources by officers in government ministries and departments.
Mr Mwale said it is depressing that Government has lost over K360 million in unretired imprest in the Ministry of Home Affairs alone.
Bangweulu MP Chifita Matafwali (PF) said the committee was saddened by the responses it was receiving from the controlling officer.
And Chinsali MP Christopher Mulenga (PF) called on Mr Nkole to put in place measures that will deter officers from abusing public resources.
In his defence, Mr Nkole said he has written to Mr Sichilima requesting him to retire the imprest failure to which he will be taken to court for stealing public funds.
“I want to inform the committee that I have written to Mr Sichilima to retire imprest on many occasions but he has not responded. If he fails to retire the imprest, we will have no option but to take him to court,” Mr Nkole said.
And Auditor General Anna Chifungula told the committee that a senior auditor from her office has been dismissed after being paid K27 million by officials at the passports office as an inducement to distort audited information.
[Zambia Daily Mail]