Post from News Agency in Zambia
It is also said that “doing is the best way of saying.” Indeed, living is the best way of believing. We say all this in the light of the very good work being done by our Auditor General that is not being accompanied by action, by deeds. So much money is being spent on the Office of the Auditor General to carry out audits in public institutions. And every year, reports are issued by the Auditor General’s office of it’s findings. Every year, it unearths so many irregularities in the way public funds and other resources are being misappropriated, misapplied and misused. But nothing is done to correct the situation and punish the wrongdoers. The Auditor General’s work, if not accompanied by corrective action – punitive or otherwise, is worthless. What does it profit this country to carry out such expensive audits just to have dust gather on the reports they generate? What is the value of these audits if those in power do not use them to protect public resources from further misappropriation, misapplication and misuse?
If no change is made in the way the Auditor General’s reports are used, then it won’t be worth spending so much money on such audits. These audits are not an end in themselves. They are meant to help us manage the meagre resources of our people with diligence and frugality.
We must see to it that all our people, and especially our leaders, constantly bear in mind that although our country is endowed with many natural resources, it is still economically backward and a poor one, and that is a great contradiction. To make Zambia rich and prosperous needs intense effort, which should include, among other things, the effort to practice strict economy and combat corruption, abuses, thefts, misapplication, misappropriation and all sorts of misuse of public resources. In a word, we need to build up our country through diligence and frugality. Diligence and frugality should be practiced in running public institutions and affairs. The principle of diligence and frugality should be observed in everything. Given the limited financial resources available to our people, we must particularly advocate diligence and frugality and pay special attention to economy. We must avoid taking a short view and indulge in wastefulness, extravagance and corruption.
Those who misapply, misuse and misappropriate public resources should not be allowed to go scot-free. We must take resolute measures against anyone misusing, misapplying and misappropriating public resources. Given the limited resources we have, we have no choice as a nation but to pay attention to thrift and economy. Thrift should be the guiding principle in our government expenditure. It should be made clear to all government workers that corruption and waste are very serious crimes. And this is not the case today. Those who work in our public sector know that the Auditor General’s work to unearth the misappropriation, misapplication and misuse of public funds is worthless; it won’t get them fired, arrested, prosecuted and sent to prison; it won’t make them lose their loot. It is loosely debated in Parliament and matters end there. And because of this, no one is scared of misusing public resources because there is no follow-up to make those who are found wanting disciplined.
A dangerous tendency has shown itself of late among many of our public servants – an unwillingness to share the joys and hardships of the masses, a concern for personal gain. This is very bad. And one way of stopping it is to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the Auditor General’s work and a strict follow-up on what they unearth with a view to recovering what has been lost through misappropriation, misuse and misapplication.
The work of the Auditor General is very important. There has to be accountability and transparency in the use of public resources. But if the reports of the Auditor General are not acted upon by the authorities, then it’s not worth it for the taxpayer to continue financing this work. And in saying this, we are not in any way putting blame on the Auditor General’s office because it is not their duty to recover what is stolen or to directly stop bad practices. Theirs is simply to point out what is wrong and then those in power correct it. The Auditor General’s office is not a law enforcement agency. There is nothing that stops the police, the Anti Corruption Commission and the Drug Enforcement Commission from pursuing issues raised in the Auditor General’s reports and arrest and prosecute those involved. But this doesn’t happen.
There is simply no political will in this country to stop wrongdoing, to fight corruption and recover what is stolen. There seems to be an entrenched culture of corruption that runs from the lowest levels of government to the highest echelons of power. Misappropriation, misapplication and misuse of public resources starts at State House itself, at the presidency itself. Corruption is encouraged from there. State House is a citadel of misappropriation, misapplication and misuse of public funds and other resources in our country.
And we have well-laid out evidence of this in our courts of law. We all know how Frederick Chiluba used State House to steal public funds and enrich himself and those around him. No one can say such practices have stopped and ended with Chiluba. State House is still being used today to protect Chiluba and his tandem of thieves from being made to account for what they misappropriated, misapplied and misused. They have been allowed to go scot-free in the same way those who are found wanting by the Auditor General’s audits are allowed to escape justice and keep their loot. And the highest demonstration of this impunity can be seen in the way Chiluba has been treated. They did not only make sure that he doesn’t go to prison, but they also made sure that even the London High Court judgment that ordered Chiluba to pay back to the Zambian people more than US $45 million he had stolen from government coffers is not paid back. They procured one of the worst judgments ever seen in this country to ensure that no enforcement of the London High Court order against Chiluba was possible in this country. And this also well demonstrated in this government’s refusal to appeal what was clearly an absurd judgment. US $45 million for our poor people is a lot of money to let an individual who has stolen it from their government keep it for his personal enjoyment. And we are not even ashamed to wake up the following day and go to all sorts of donors asking for aid, asking for help when we don’t want to recover millions of dollars that belong to us, that were misappropriated by some greedy and heartless politicians like Chiluba.
If our attitude towards the Auditor General’s reports does not change, there is no need to continue wasting our taxpayers and donors’ money on these useless audits. And the Auditor General’s office should be closed because it is not producing work that is of use to us. In short, there is no value for money in those reports of the Auditor General if they are not acted upon.