Punish corrupt council officers – parley committee

THE Parliamentary Committee on Local Governance, Housing and Chiefs Affairs has recommended that Government must start punishing senior council officers found wanting of theft and other abuses instead of transferring them to other councils.
Presenting a report on the summarised audited accounts of 34 councils for 2012, committee chairman Allan Mbewe said the financial irregularities were as a result of weak or lack of supervision on the part of controlling officers.
He said the negative development showed that councils have decided to deliberately not adhere to directives and advice given.
“This can be seen from some controlling officers who have continued to appear before this Committee to answer not only queries of a similar nature but also more queries, which makes the whole process an academic exercise,” Mr Mbewe said.
He said council officers who had committed serious irregularities were merely transferred to other councils with minimal and sometimes without any serious reprimand.
“Unfortunately, this amounts to spreading problems from one council to another. The Local Government Service Commission was allowing these officers to get away with serious offences, thereby furthering the development of indiscipline and irresponsibility amongst council employees,” Mr Mbewe said.
Debating the report, Local Government and Housing Minister Emmanuel Chenda said Government was developing various measures to reduce the financial irregularities in councils.
“These problems will now be handled through disciplinary action rather than transferring an officer to another council and all theft matters will be reported to the police to take action,” he said.
Earlier, Mr Mbewe presented another report on the water and sanitation programme support phase one.
He said contractors were usually sourced from Lusaka.
“This had created problems in terms of supervision because district councils were expected to supervise the contractors despite not being involved in the selection process. Also, there are some areas with unique terrain and contractors selected needed to have experience in drilling boreholes in areas with similar terrain. It appeared that drillers that were recruited in the programme did not have experience in such areas, thus facing challenges resulting in poor workmanship,” Mr Mbewe said.

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