DISCLOSE TASK FORCE FINANCIAL ABUSES

The Government has been challenged to disclose the extent to which money sourced from donors for the defunct and discredited Task Force on Corruption by Mark Chona, the original chairman, was abused.

Auditor General Anne Chifungula in her audit report of 2005 revealed that the Taskforce maintained an offshore account (the Anti-Corruption Fund) in United Kingdom (UK) but this was not available for audit except for funds released by Mr Chona to a local account.

Mr Chona was recruited to the Task Force for his relationship with the donor community from which he was able to mobilize funds and resources.

Now the Zambia Direct Democracy Movement (ZDDM) has demanded for a full disclosure of the expenditure of the Task Force which was fully funded by Government and  donor countries including  Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden and UK.

The audit report, according to ZDDM president Edwin Sakala, disclosed a lot of unconstitutional expenditures as the Task Force suffered from poor record keeping and lacked internal control against abuses.  The audit report, he said, cited a case where US$2, 405,000.00 was paid to Ovag, an organization which was formed by  Mr Chona. The company was hired to ‘recover plundered resources’ overseas.

Ovag the report noted, did not do any discernible work and the contract stipulated that the agency could only receive money from ‘recovered plundered money’ yet Mr Chona had paid such a colossal sum. Ovag never recovered any money.

That report further stated that Chona had engaged a private law firm in UK Howrey Simon Arnold and White, the firm that started the initial suit against former President Frederick Chiluba and others on behalf of the Attorney General.

“Chona proceeded to pay US$1, 575,096-00 without due regard to the Attorney General. In whose name the suit was being undertaken and without referring the matter to the Zambia National Tender Board (ZNTB),” The report revealed.

Mr. Sakala added that the British Government also hired on behalf of the Attorney General, DLA Piper who received in excess of £10 million for their services. The same company hired William Blair QC, brother of former Prime Minister Tony Blair in its quest to convict Dr. Chiluba.

The Audit report, he said, also queried why private prosecutors Mutembo and Nchima Nchito together with their law firm MNB, were hired by the Task Force and contracts signed without the mandate of the Attorney General who was the only person allowed by law to negotiate, and provide legal service for all Government contracts.

Zambians, he said, should also be told the consultants Mr Chona paid in excess of  US$763,560 from accounts opened at Bank of Zambia keeping recovered or forfeited fundsMr. Sakala said that in her report the AG revealed that the Taskforce on Corruption had no specific budgetary allocation, but received its funds through Ministry of Home Affairs and Cabinet Office.

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