Permanent Secretaries and Directors at the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Auditor General have been transferred to the Cabinet office and the Public Services Management Division as part of the ongoing investigations into allegations of irregular payments. The investigations were necessitated by a special audit of the Integrated Financial Management Information System for the period 2018 to 2021.
Secretary to the Cabinet, Patrick Kangwa, issued a statement saying, “President Hakainde Hichilema has directed that the ongoing investigations must be conducted without any interference. The President is committed to ensuring that all government operations are conducted with the highest level of integrity and accountability.”
In response to reports that the officials had been fired, Mr. Kangwa dismissed the rumors saying, “No permanent Secretary or Director has been fired contrary to social media reports. The ongoing investigations require the cooperation and support of all parties involved, and the President is committed to ensuring that the process is conducted fairly and transparently.”
However, Amb. Emmanuel Mwamba, the Patriotic Front Presidential Candidate, had a different take on the matter. He stated, “Another purge! In the midst of a comprehensive government audit of books of 2021 and 2022, President Hakainde Hichilema has purged staff involved in both internal and external audit of government funds. Does he want his own men, compliant officers that will hide information? What’s the purpose of these dismissals?”
President Hakainde Hichilema has reportedly fired the Accountant General, Kennedy Musonda, as well as the Deputies of the Auditor General, Clara Mazimba and Francis Mbewe, along with several Directors of internal Audit. Mr. Chibwe Mulonda, the Controller (Permanent Secretary level) of internal Audit was also affected.
In response to the allegations of corruption, Mr. Kangwa said, “The President is committed to ensuring that all public funds are used in a responsible and accountable manner. The ongoing investigations are part of this commitment, and we will continue to work with all parties involved to ensure that the truth is uncovered and that any wrongdoing is punished.”
Amb. Emmanuel Mwamba concluded, “There is a high-level game at play. But what I can tell you is that corruption is as high or worse than it was before. The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) and other reports are a testament to these assertions. We must ensure that the law takes its course and recovery be made.”
As the investigations continue, the public is urged to remain vigilant and to scrutinize the allegations being made, as the truth about the irregularities at the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Auditor General is slowly uncovered.