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Auditor General search hits snag

4 years now without Auditor General

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The Treasury says it is going back to the drawing board as it has failed to identify a suitable person for the position of Auditor General (AG), four years after it fell vacant.

Secretary to the Treasury Macdonald Mwale told Parliament’s Budget and Public Appointments Cluster Thursday that they have, on two attempts, failed to find a suitable candidate to head the National Audit Office (Nao).

The revelations came after one of the members of the committee expressed concern over delays to identify an individual suitable for the position.

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The position of AG fell vacant in 2018 after the Office of the President and Cabinet opted not to renew the contract of Stephenson Kamphasa.

Makiwa took over as acting AG and continues to serve in that capacity.

“One of the issues is to do with perks. We are supposed to compete with auditing firms that are out there; so, I think it’s a bigger issue than just that of recruitment. We will go back to the table and see what to do in order to attract a suitable officer for this position,” Mwale said.

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Cluster chairperson Gladys Ganda said the government must come in and benchmark its package with what is in the private sector.

“We can decide to benchmark with the private sector and check how much people are getting. We cannot be changing laws to suit certain individuals but we can change perks to attract them. Our position has been that we can afford to change the package and attract a good candidate,” she said.

Ganda said, in the absence of a permanent office bearer, it was difficult for acting AG, Makiwa, to make binding decisions on critical matters that represent the institution.

According to the committee chairperson, the current law requires that the one who holds the position should be a practising auditor, hence compelling the government to source the individual from the private sector.

Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency Executive Director Willie Kambwandira bemoaned delays to identify a permanent office bearer.

“Continued delays in recruiting the Auditor General compromise the fight against corruption and expose public funds to abuse. The government should consider providing an attractive package to the individual who will hold this key position to avoid risks that compromise the independence of the Auditor General,” he said.

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