A possible showdown is looming between Government and union representatives over the mass suspension without charge, of over 80 workers at the Ministry of Education on allegations of fraud, arising from an ongoing forensic audit over the reportedy disappearance of millions of donor funds.
Unions are accusing government of using underhand methods and political expediency to launder their image in the eyes of the donor community.
Sources close to the investigation disclose a heavy hand possibly traced to State House over the banishment of the workers which they view as illegal and a smokescreen to shield the real perpetrators of the crime.
“This is plainly and clearly fishing hook liner and sinker. How do they say you are suspended though we have no evidence against you but we are looking for it. How fair and just is that”, asked the source.
The suspension letters dated 24th September 2018 read;
“Following the presentation of Part 3 of Forensic Audit Report on the verification of the Responses by the Ministry of General Education to the DARP paragraph 52 of the Auditor General’s Report for the Financial year ended 31st December 2016, it has been decided that you be suspended with immediate effect. This is in line with Disciplinary code and Procedure for handling offences in the Public Service No 23 (a) and (b) and 25 (Viii)”.
Reports obtained so far indicate that the Permanent Secretary Technical Mr Henry Tukombe masterminded the scam. He is said to have been used by State House as a conduit to siphon money for corrupt activities and party projects for the PF and in the process massively benefited in President Lungu’s much acclaimed theory of ‘ubomba mwibala alya mwibala’.
What is baffling is that controlling officers like Tukombe whose duty is to authorise disbursements of money to various points, has remained unscathed in the purge .