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Auditor General absence worries Pac

Committee calls for Public Audit law review

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The government’s commitment to good governance has come under question following its failure to appoint an Auditor General (AG) to oversee public institutions’ expenditures, thereby attracting the wrath of Parliament.

The Public Appointments Committee (Pac) of Parliament has described the development as a violation of Public Audit law.

Both Pac and acting AG Thomas Makiwa agreed Thursday that the vacant position is affecting operations of the office as some strategic decisions cannot be made by someone serving in an acting capacity.

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The committee summoned Makiwa and officials from his office to discuss challenges that were created by the Public Audit Act.

Pac Chairperson Joyce Chitsulo said her committee would engage other parliamentary committees to have the Act reviewed.

“It does not make sense to have an acting person forever. There is a need to make sure that there is room that, when one leaves the office, immediately we have an auditor general in place. This is really affecting operations of the office,” Chitsulo said.

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She said an acting officer cannot make certain decisions.

Chitsulo also called for the independence of the office, observing that, in the current Act, that is not guaranteed.

Makiwa told journalists after the meeting that his office was equally concerned as the vacancy affects strategic decisions and stability, indicating that the “lack of [a] substantive auditor general has implications on the strategic direction of the office”.

“Time has elapsed. We are talking about four years and there have been attempts to recruit the auditor general and, at the end of it, we have never had one,” he said.

Makiwa said the office is strategic, hence there is a need for permanency, leadership and control— which can only come when there is a “substantive” auditor general.

Meanwhile, Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency Executive Director Willy Kambwandira has said continued delays to fill the vacant post at the AG’s office do not speak to the government’s commitment to deal with problems of abuse of public funds and corruption.

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