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Audit reveals lapses at PPDA

Thomas Makiwa

PHIRI— We would like to follow up on the irregularities

The Auditor General (AG)’s report for the financial year ending on June 30 2020 has revealed that the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) paid four of its newly recruited members of staff salaries amounting to over K11.6 million, which it describes as higher than what is recommended for their grades.

In his comment, acting Auditor General Thomas Makiwa says, after inspecting financial records for personnel emoluments and human resource records, his office registered several financial and control weaknesses at the authority, a development which forced the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (Pac) to summon officials from the authority on Tuesday.

“For the period between June 2019 and October 2020, the AG’s office established that four newly recruited officers were receiving salaries higher than the amounts on the approved salary structure (dated January 16 2020 and reference number HRM/CS/06); the overpayment amounted to K11,630,090.58,” the report reads.

The report has also queried the authority over the irregular recruitment of Lisa Machinjiri as Internal Audit and Risk Manager.

The audit has revealed that Machinjiri assumed the post, at grade PPDA 5, through external recruitment and, yet, the vacancy was not advertised.

The Daily Times has independently established that Machinjiri, who first went for interviews for the post of Internal Auditor— which is junior to the one she is holding now— is receiving a salary of K3 million, with a motor vehicle as one of her benefits.

“Paragraph 1.2 of the Staff terms and conditions of services for the PPDA expressly state that external recruitment shall require advertising the vacancy in the press and instituting an interview panel to interview the short-listed candidate…

“But an inspection of the documentation on the recruitment process of the newly recruited staff for the period between July 2019 and June 2020 revealed that the post of Internal Audit manager was filled through external recruitment but without advertising the vacancy,” the report reads.

Responding to the queries, PPDA Head of Corporate Affairs Kahaki Jere conceded the anomaly, saying they decided to offer Machinjiri the managerial position although it was not advertised because she was overqualified for the post of Internal Auditor.

A long list for the position of Internal Auditor, which we have seen, shows that 48-year-old Machinjiri holds a Master in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Accountancy and came first out of the six candidates who attended interviews on November 7 2019.

“I sincerely regret that the recruitment of the Internal Audit and Risk Manager was not advertised to the public…the matter is still under discussion and we will take the right steps to regularise everything that has been discussed,” Jere said.

Meanwhile, Pac has suspended Machinjiri’s recruitment and has asked the PPDA secretariat to inform their board of the outcomes of the meeting.

On the overpayment of salaries, sit-in chairperson for the committee Ben Phiri said public institutions like the PPDA ought to lead by example in safeguarding the public purse.

“We would like to follow up on the irregularities. [For] PPDA, being a hub of all government procurements, the bar is high and we want to get to the bottom of the matter and find out what happened. We do not want any traces of connivance and corruption at the PPDA,” Phiri said,

In May last year, Human Rights Defenders Coalition took PPDA to task over what it called failures and alleged dubious awarding of contracts to some firms.

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