WHY QUESTION DEFENCE FORCE AUDITS NOW?
By Nkonkomalimba Kafunda
The opposition Patriotic Front has insisted hat it will go ahead with impeachment proceedings against president Hakainde Hichilema after the finance ministry, through the Audit General’s office engaged private accountants to audit the county’s security wings.
Acting President of the erstwhile ruling party Given Lubinda told journalists Monday that even though his party did not have the requisite two thirds members of the 156 member parliament, a lot of other MPs were not happy with HH’s rule and would support the motion.
This, however, can not be further from the truth and is generally seen as a party fighting to remain relevant after the humiliating electoral annihilation in the August 12 2021 polls.
In essence, their planned move is a frivolous, mischievous and vexatious exercise in futility
On May 14, 2022, government appointed six audit specialist firm to verify the extent and veracity of the country’s public domestic debt, an exercise necessitated by the endemic corruption in the last government that has cost the country billions of tax payer kwachas.
Of the six firms, two PriceWaterHouse Coopers and Grant Thorton were assigned to audit the defence forces.
Why are these audits being questioned now as they are about to come to their much anticipated conclusion? Are the probable results so damming that officials of the last government and their accomplices are going all out to discredit the process and, ultimately, the outcome?
The argument is that the sensitive and secretive nature of security operations make the hiring of these firms a national security breach does not hold water.
It is an open secret the echelons f power that for generations politicians using dubious business people and corrupt public servants have had no scruples syphoning public resources through the defence forces, because of the same secrecy that surrounds their operations.
Supplying air, under supplying and supplying at exaggeratedly astronomical prices through collusion of quotations has been going for ages.
This is where the same supplier provides the procuring or spending agency with three quotations and the seemingly most favorable is chosen creating an illusion f competitive procurement process when the beneficiary is one and the same.
The fact that the Auditor General’s office has been carrying out audits year in year out but the scourge has not declined or been eliminated in itself should be a cause of great concern.
In essence the engaging of external auditors is in itself an audit of the auditor. It must be established whether previous audits met accepted international standards and can hold up to critical scrutiny and peer review.
Had previous audits been effective the country would not have continued losing billions paying for things supplied at inflated prices or not supplied at all. Here must also critically look at what succusses have been achieved over the years using the auditor general as the principal auditor of government financial dealings. Very little if any.
There has never been any significant successful prosecution using evidence gathered by the Auditor General in cases involving the security wings. Does this mean there have been no transgressions? I don’t think so.
It is important, therefore, in this new dawn of accountability and transparency, all government wings are subjected to the same standard of scrutiny. .
The security wings, because of the secretive nature of their operations, no doubt owe colossal amounts of money as they are easy conduits for corruption.
In fact, they require greater probity than ordinary government departments.