Some civil servants in the Ministry of Local Government and Housing have stolen K3.3 million Constituency Development Fund (CDF) meant for Rufunsa and Chongwe constituencies, Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) has charged.
But when contacted for a comment, Local government minister Emmanuel Chenda advised the reporter to call after an hour as he was in a meeting.
The civil servants accused of fraud, diversion and misapplication of the over K3.3 million include typists, stenographers, Registry clerks and Accounts assistants.
TIZ executive director Goodwell Lungu made the allegations at a media briefing in Lusaka yesterday.
Mr Lungu said the money involved K 1.3 m for Rufunsa while the rest of the amount waswas for Chongwe constituency.
He said the Ministry of Local Government gave instructions to their Bank between 19th and 23rd October 2013 to transfer CDF funds meant for Chongwe and Rufunsa Constituency.
“In March 2014, the ministry received information from District Treasurers from Rufunsa and Chongwe District Council that they had not yet received their 2013 CDF allocation,” he said
Mr Lungu added that on 14th March 2014, the ministry issued fresh instructions to their Bank to transfer the CDF funds to Rufunsa and Chongwe Constituencies amounting to K2,600,000.00.
“The Bank was not able to remit the funds to Chongwe owing to insufficient funds,” he said.
Mr Lungu further said it was at this moment that it was discovered that the Rufunsa portion of the CDF funds amounting to K1, 300,000 was dubiously, without Treasury authority, transferred to the ministry’s grants account.
“The funds were fraudulently transferred from the CDF Account No. 110110143887026 to Grants Account No. 110110143887016 in sums of K700, 000.00) and K600, 000.00 totalling K1, 300.000.00.
“The first K700, 000 was transferred on 13th December 2013 and the last K600, 000 transferred on 13th February 2014 way after the 2013 financial year had closed on 31st December 2013,” Mr Lungu said.
He said TIZ was aware that the CDF Account was funded in line with the approved amounts in the National Budget under Head 29/05, Programme 5004 and Activity 002 adding that it was approved by Parliament.
“This therefore means that moving funds from this Head implies changing the Head and therefore needed seeking approval from the Secretary to the Treasury,”
“Our assessment shows that no such Treasury authority was obtained to divert the K1.3million CDF funds into the Grant account,” he said.
Mr Lungu demanded for clarification whether consent was received from the Secretary to the Treasury to conduct such a transfer.
“By the end of December 2013, the Ministry of Finance had released a total of K195, 000,000.00 in five instalments. These funds were meant to benefit a total of 150 constituencies each meant to get an equal amount of K1, 300,000 totalling K195, 000,000.00.
“We have details that confirm that the funds were transferred and received by the ministry,” Mr Lungu said.
He said TIZ’s assessment with regard to CDF for Rufunsa Constituency revealed suspicious payments amounting to K1, 285,755 that started being withdrawn the same day on 13th December 2013 when the first K700, 000 was transferred to the grants account.
“On this day, a total of K237, 000 was withdrawn from the grants account. These withdrawals continued until the 7th of March in 2014,” Mr Lungu said.
But when contacted for a comment, Mr Chenda advised the reporter to call after an hour as he was in a meeting.
“I am in a meeting, please call me after an hour, I cannot give a comment right now,” Mr Chenda said.