The Ministry of Finance and National Planning has released a statement in response to growing concerns regarding the whereabouts of over K65 million that was forfeited by Faith Musonda and intended for disbursement to students at the University of Zambia (UNZA) for bursaries. The recent audit report from the Office of the Auditor General has raised questions about the handling of these funds, leading to public scrutiny and allegations of possible misappropriation.
In its statement, the Ministry of Finance acknowledges the audit report’s findings and assures the public of its commitment to transparency and accountability. The ministry reiterates that the funds, totaling K65,332,446 million and US$57,950, were received from the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and subsequently transferred to the Consolidated Account (Control 99) at the Bank of Zambia, in accordance with the mandate vested in it by the Public Financial Management Act Number 1 of 2018 and the Forfeiture of Proceeds Act, 2010.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Finance confirms that the disbursed funds were then allocated to the Higher Education Loans and Scholarship Board (HELSB) through the Ministry of Education. These funds were intended to supplement existing treasury funding, and a total of K90.07 million was allocated to HELSB in 2022. As a result, 2,780 students were awarded scholarships, contributing to their educational aspirations.
The Ministry of Finance and National Planning reiterates its commitment to an open-door policy of public engagement and emphasizes its determination to keep citizens and stakeholders appropriately informed on financial and economic matters. It pledges to address the concerns raised regarding the missing funds and assures the public that a thorough investigation will be conducted to ascertain the truth and ensure full accountability.
And Minister of Education Douglas Syakalima earlier clarified that the K65, 333, 046, which the state collected from Ms Musonda was used for school bursaries at the University of Zambia, as directed by President Hakainde Hichilema.
Mr Syakalima explained that even when the money was diverted to the University of Zambia, his ministry through the Higher Education Loans and Scholarship Board sourced for more funding totaling slightly above K90 million to assist more vulnerable students.
The ACC and the Minister of education were responding to a story item that was published in the News Diggers edition of Monday June 5, 2023, that carried a headline, leaked letter dazzles Attorney General, exposes ACC; Faith Musonda’s K65 million kwacha missing.
However, amid the Ministry’s statement, Antonio Mourinho Mwanza, in his capacity as a critic of the Anti-Corruption Commission and PF media director, has voiced his skepticism. Mwanza alleges that the funds, despite being surrendered by the ACC to the Ministry of Finance, have gone missing. He highlights the audit report’s revelation that the money did not reflect on Control 99, indicating potential diversion or theft.
Citing relevant laws, Mwanza points out the prescribed procedures for the administration and management of government funds, emphasizing the need for adherence to financial regulations. He questions whether the Ministry of Finance can provide proof that the funds were deposited correctly and used as intended for student bursaries. Mwanza further asserts that if the Ministry fails to demonstrate compliance with the law, the audit report’s claim of stolen funds holds true.