By NATION REPORTER
That the audit scandal of the defence and security wings has exploded in the face of government, President Hakainde Hichilema must explain where he had given consent in writing to the Office of the Auditor General to allow and approve the hiring of Grant Thornton and Price Water House Coopers to do the audit, says Given Lubinda.
And Mr Lubinda, the Patriotic Front (PF) acting President has charged that not even in a State of Emergency can expedience be a reason for government breach of the Constitution.
He said the contract between the Ministry of Finance and National Planning and Grant Thornton and Price Water House Coopers is therefore null and void.
Mr Lubinda has said the Finance Minister Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane has made President Hichilema answerable by his claims that Government decided to contract the two private auditing firms to intrude into the books of accounts of the defence and security wings because the Office of the Auditor General was overwhelmed with work.
Mr Lubinda said President Hichilema should now face Zambians and explain as to whether he had written to the Auditor General giving consent to contract private firms to audit the Zambia Army, Zambia Air Force (ZAF) and the Zambia National Service (ZNS).
He said according to Article 73, subsection (2) of the Public Finance Act of 2018, the Auditor General could subcontract private auditing firms to audit the country’s Defence Force Units only with a written consent from the President who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces.
Mr Lubinda said Article 73 subsection (2) was clear that only in special circumstances would the Auditor General hire specialised audit firms or consultants but that would only be done with written presidential consent without which the Office of the Auditor General would be committing an illegality.
“The explanation by the Minister of Finance and National Planning, Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane that the government contracted the two private firms because the Auditor General was overwhelmed with his work highly nonsensical. There is no reason that would warrant the breaking of the law because of expedience. Just because it has become expedient for Dr Musokotwane to enter into a contract with private firms, then the law should be broken. Time has come for President Hichilema to explain to Zambians whether he had given consent in writing to the Auditor General to allow specialist auditors or consultants to audit our Defence and Security Wings,” Mr Lubinda said.
He said even in a State of Emergency, it was expected that government should endeavour to respect the rule of law by adhering to the dictates of the Constitution.
“We are now in a situation where the UPND administration has begun to think it has suspended the Constitution and all the laws thereof. Dr Musokotwane is trying to hide behind a small finger. By saying the Auditor General was busy, Dr Musokotwane is passing the buck to the President and attempting to hide behind a small finger,” Mr Lubinda said.