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Pac faults OPC over Colleen Zamba’s absence

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Mark Botomani

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament Wednesday turned back Deputy Secretary to the President and Cabinet (DSPC) Janet Banda who went to appear before the committee on behalf of SPC Colleen Zamba.

Pac Chairperson Mark Botomani said his committee was shocked to learn from its secretariat that Banda had turned up on behalf of her boss.

This, according to Botomani, is despite that the committee had received confirmation on Tuesday that Zamba would be available.

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Zamba was set to respond to about 22 queries that Pac wanted to bring to her attention following various issues that were raised against government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) in the 2019-20 Auditor General’s report.

“We had initially wanted to meet the former SPC [Zanga-Zanga Chikhosi] but the same week he was dismissed and Madam Zamba was appointed.

“We thought it was only fair to let her settle in office. Wednesday, we got communication that she would be here. That is why the committee felt that the meeting should not proceed until we have her,” Botomani said.

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He said Pac does not undermine the ability and competence of Banda, who is a lawyer by profession, but said they would like a one-on-one interaction with Zamba as she is new in the office.

“As equally competent as the DSPC is, it remains the view of the committee that it should meet the SPC herself because she is new and there are so many issues that we would like to interact with her on.

“By the way, there are about 22 audit queries from MDAs that were to be brought before her for responses and there are other issues that the members would like to raise with her; so she just has to be here,” Botomani added.

Banda, however, told the committee that Zamba had just arrived from a foreign trip the previous night and was unable to make it for the scheduled appearance before Pac.

She added that after several postponements of the meeting, OPC decided to proceed with the appearance before Pac through her.

“We are sorry but we think there was a bit of miscommunication, because even the time the confirmation was being done, the SPC was not in the country and we handled it this way since the DSPC is part of the SPC’s office,” Banda said.

Pac has since asked OPC to arrange for Zamba’s meeting with the committee before August 29, 2022.

Some of the issues Zamba was expected to address during her appearance touch on misprocurement of goods and services, unprocedural recruitments, fuel misallocations and long-outstanding receivables.

Meanwhile, transparency and accountability analyst Willie Kambwandira has asked OPC to take the matter seriously, saying the office has to be accountable to Malawians through Parliament.

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