THE Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) should expedite and immediately conclude its investigations into the alleged plunder of resources by Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) bosses because the public is eagerly waiting for the truth to be known, the Youth in Action for Sustainable Development (YASD) has said.
Programmes manager Zebedy Lukwesa told the Daily Nation yesterday that the Commission has had enough time to conclude its findings especially that EMM Corporate Partners, the audit firm which had unearthed glaring misuse of public funds, was cleared of any irregularities by the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants (ZICA).
Mr. Lukwesa said his organisation expected the results of the findings to be made public by now especially after ZICA stepped in and dispelled ZNFU’s allegations that the audit company misdirected itself because it did not understand the operations of the institution and its funders.
He said Zambians were tired of having investigative wings launching endless investigations which were not concluded, saying the situation was casting a shadow of doubt on the operations of certain institutions, thereby eroding public confidence in their operations.
He said the tendency of investigative wings to hide valuable information from the public under the pretext that such acts would jeopardise investigations created room for corruption as most cases have been abandoned in similar circumstances without the public knowing the truth.
He said the ZNFU scam was a serious issue which the public had followed keenly not only because the money allegedly plundered was intended for capacity building of the poor farmers, but that it was donor money which once misappropriated painted a bad picture of the country.
“We are appealing to DEC to expedite its investigations on the ZNFU scam because we have waited for far too long a time and we want it concluded as soon as possible. We are eager to know what really transpired so that culprits can be brought to book and pay back the money.
“That money was intended to improve the productivity of our farmers and it was donor money which taxpayers in other countries contributed and cannot just go unaccounted for because the country’s image in terms of accountability has been tarnished, which means donors will now be skeptical about sending their money to Zambia,” Mr. Lukwesa said. Massive misappropriation of donor funds totalling more than K34 million in activities bordering on fraud, tax evasion and sheer abuse of authority were unearthed early this year at ZNFU following an audit sanctioned by donors.
The ZNFU, however, claimed the audit firm had misdirected itself over the audit because it did not understand how the institution operated and sanctioned ZICA to review the audit.
However, ZICA cleared the audit firm of any professional misconduct, saying the audit was conducted within the confines of the law.
Efforts to get a comment from DEC spokesperson Theresa Katongo proved futile as she could not be reached on her mobile phone.