TRIAL involving six suspended Ministry of Local Government and Housing employees accused of stealing K1.3 million Constituency Development Fund (CDF) for Rufunsa commenced yesterday with a witness testifying that two irregular transfers were made in 2013 and 2014.
Ministry of Local Government and Housing principal local government auditor Brian Simukoko, 45, of Lusaka’s Nyumba Yanga testified that two irregular transfers were made on December 13, 2013 and February 12, 2014.
Mr Simukoko was testifying in a case in which local government administration director Thomas Banda, 51, is jointly charged with five others with 21 counts of theft by public servant, corrupt acquisition of public property or revenue and falsification of documents contrary to the laws of Zambia.
Banda is jointly charged with his assistant Jimmy Chulu, 43, human resource and administration assistant director Mary Lubinga, 50, senior accountant Raphael Mbewe, 44, accountant Kister Kapota, 41 and accounts assistant Edwin Muchinda, 43.
“A search was conducted at the Ministry of Local Government and Housing to establish whether letters which supported the transfer of funds from the CDF account to the grants accounts existed at the same time to establish whether transfers were authorised.
“It was, however, discovered that there were no documents at the ministry supporting these transfers,” Mr Simukoko said.
He said the two transfers were irregular in that the CDF account only has one type of transaction which is movement of funds from the account to all the 150 constituencies.
Mr Simukoko said transfer of funds from the CDF account to an individual constituency is only permissible under special circumstances and with authority from the Secretary to the Treasury.
He said the ministry, during a disbursement review of the 2014 CDF, received a complaint that Rufunsa Constituency did not receive its share of money amounting to K1.3 million.
Mr Simukoko said an inquiry was instituted with Investrust Bank to establish why Rufunsa Constituency did not receive the money.
He said the bank informed the ministry that the money was returned into the CDF account due to invalid bank details.
Mr Simukoko said fresh instructions with correct bank details were sent to the bank but the institution wrote back informing the ministry that it was unable to pay because the account was insufficiently funded.
He said the ministry requested the bank to provide interim bank statements for purposes of tracking the movement of the money.
Mr Simukoko said the interim bank statements revealed that two irregular transfers were made and the money was paid to various employees of the Ministry of Local Government and Housing.
He said it was revealed to him by the Drug Enforcement Commission during investigations that 18 cheques were signed payable to five ministry employees and non-ministry staff.