A CLOSED door meeting was yesterday held between the donors and Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) board and management.
Inspite of adjustments made to the draft report of over K34 million allegedly misappropriated by the institution, donors have maintained their stance to have ZNFU president Evelyn Nguleka and executive director Ndambo Ndambo removed and the misappropriated money returned and have given management two weeks in which to respond to the issues in contention.
And in a dramatic turn of events, one of the ZNFU directors has resigned following the revelation of gross financial irregularities which have engulfed the ZNFU as donors have threatened to pull out, with stakeholders calling for the disbandment of the organisation.
The meeting was aimed at ironing out the allegations as contained in the EMM Corporate Partners’ audit report and ZNFU’s subsequent decision to discredit the report and its desperate manoeuvres to lure the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants (ZICA) to step in the case with a view to save ZNFU’s face.
A source close to the development told the Daily Nation that the donors have however maintained that there was still need for a thorough audit of the accounts department to rid the system of any dubious activities by effecting discipline on all those found wanting.
The source said the donors have also maintained that the money in question should be paid back to the institution by those who allegedly benefited from the well-orchestrated plunder scheme by senior officers. The source said the donors were disappointed by the development and wanted all the loopholes that allowed senior management, working with some accountants to abuse their positions by engaging in corrupt activities, sealed. Meanwhile, the Drug Enforcement Commission (ECZ) has officially written to ZNFU to answer to issues raised in the audit report.
Massive misappropriation of donor funds totalling to more than K34 billion in activities bordering on fraud, tax evasion and sheer abuse of authority was unearthed at ZNFU three weeks ago.
According to a preliminary draft financial report compiled by the Swedish International Development Agency obtained by the Daily Nation, the ZNFU top management compromised presidents of the organisation and boards which were supposed to provide oversight to avoid fraud, theft and abuse of funds.
The report cites a case where close to K1 billion of donor funds were used to pay a contractor for vehicle tracking when in fact the owners of the company were a senior ZNFU official and his wife.
Apart from contracting his own company ZNFU was overbilled for the use of the tracking system for vehicles, some of which did not belong to ZNFU.
The named official also allegedly incurred more than K4 billion in several allowances including gratuity, unretired imprest and many other expenses that could not be justified in the audit.
After the report was released, ZNFU board convened a meeting in a bid to discredit the audit report where it was resolved to, among other things, compel ZICA to review the entire audit process and findings of the EMM Corporate Partners with a view to appoint an independent auditor to be agreed upon between the cooperating partners and ZNFU.
But ZICA immediately refused to be dragged into the matter through the media because it was a professional body that followed procedure, adding that ZNFU had put it in an awkward position because it was in the dark concerning the audit that had raised the concerns.