Police: theft of public money in Northern province uncovered

Police: theft of public money in Northern province uncovered

Emmanuel Mwamba (in glasses)

A provincial task-force  set up to investigate allegations of theft, fraud, illegal tendering and corruption in the Northern Province government ministries has unearthed financial scams worth billions of Kwacha involving government officials in the previous administration.

The Task Force comprise officers from the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) and the Zambia Police (ZP).

Taskforce Chairperson Mary Chikwanda, who is also Provincial Police Commissioner for oNorthern Province has confirmed the development.

She said the Task-force was constituted by the Permanent Secretary for Northern Province, Emmanuel Mwamba in line with President Michael Sata’s vision and policy of zero tolerance against corruption.

Ms Chikwanda states that the Taskforce has so far seized trucks, luxury motor vehicles, houses and a building complex in Kasama owned by government officials currently under investigations.

She said the investigations have so far exposed financial scams at Provincial Administration, departments at Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education involving over K3billion.

Ms Chikwanda says last week, the Commission also exposed theft of K131.5million stolen at the Road Development Agency (RDA) in the province and had since questioned and will likely arrested an accountant at the department.

She adds that the Accountant at RDA, Ernest Chibuye has since been suspended from work after being questioned for allegedly paying K131.5million from the coffers of RDA to a company called Ertafa General Dealers without seeking authority from or knowledge of his superiors.

She further adds that her team is also pursuing cases of K1.6billion and K400million paid to a bogus company for projects whose works have never been undertaken and have never commenced.

The Provincial police Commissioner also states that the Taskforce is also investigating the purchase and installation of a set of traffic lights in Kasama, whose initial cost was estimated to be only K90million but the provincial administration spent over K750million on the project.

She also reveals that the other irregularity regarding the traffic lights was that the former Permanent Secretary and now Member of Parliament for Mbala Constituency, Mwalimu Simfukwe never referred the matter to the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) as required by law since the threshold was above the provincial tender committee limit of K500million.

The Traffic Lights contract was awarded to a company called Cornerstone Construction.

And Northern province Permanent Secretary, Emmanuel Mwamba has revealed that Cornerstone Construction Company has abandoned 7 government projects awarded to the company in Mbala, Kasama, Isoka and Luwingu.

He expressed concern that there were many companies that were dubiously awarded contracts for government works or projects in the province but acted fraudulently by abandoning works after being paid initial amounts or cash advances.

He encouraged the Taskforce to pursue all such matters.

Meanwhile, the Provincial TaskForce has summoned an ACC investigation officer based in Kasama on allegation that he bounced a K15million Barclays cheque.Â

Ms Chikwanda emphasised that her office will not discriminate or spare anyone but will allow the law to take its course.

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