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THE continued debate over Government’s decision to hire Grant Thornton and Price Water House Coopers (PWC) is but an academic exercise, says Defence Minister Ambrose Lufuma.

Mr Lufuma said Government had already made its decision and that the Minister of Finance and National Planning, Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane had stated its position and that nothing was going to change.

Mr Lufuma said in an interview that he was not going to add or subtract from Dr Musokotwane’s ministerial statement in Parliament last week and that the debate for and against the contract awarded to Grant Thornton and PWC was only an academic exercise.   

When told that the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) had issued statement to the effect that the hiring of the two audit firms was illegal unless with express written consent from the President, Mr Lufuma said he had not seen the statement and therefore could not make a comment.

Mr Lufuma said he had not even seen the story in newspapers about LAZ declaring the contract between the Ministry of Finance and the two private audit firms illegal and would therefore not be commenting on the matter.

He said the Ministry of Defence was right at the centre of the controversy surrounding the hiring of the private audit firms to intrude into the books of accounts for the country’s defence units and would therefore not comment further than what Dr Musokotwane had said in Parliament.

“We are at the centre of it all and so we do not want to make a comment. A comprehensive statement was delivered by the Minister of Finance and that is the official position of Government. I will not add or subtract from what Dr Musokotwane said because he was categorical in his presentation.  Those academic arguments for and against are academic. So we will stick with the official statement that was made in Parliament,” Mr Lufuma said.

On Monday, the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) guided that only the Auditor General with express written consent from the President has the authority to contract external or private auditing firms to conduct audits for the country’s defence and security wings.

LAZ President Lungisani Zulu said the Auditor General could only appoint external auditors to audit the defence forces where circumstances of an audit justify such subcontracting with prior written consent of the President, authorising access by external auditors was obtained.

He said it was LAZ’s considered position that subcontracting of the external auditors to audit the defence forces was legal only if it was done by the Auditor General following the President’s prior written consent.

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