About K138 million of public funds have been lost at Ntchisi District Council where some officials manipulated the payment system and paid themselves as high as K9 million per month since November 2019.
A report prepared by the Department of the Accountant General and submitted to police shows that two officers were getting undeserved huge salaries while the council’s payroll had seven ghost workers also earning millions.
The paper trail, that includes bank statements and salary sheets, identify two officers at Ntchisi District Council— Gregorio Chimphambo and Ghostino Stalico—as suspects who have been receiving the dubious payments.
The two work in the accounts section and, according to Ntchisi district commissioner Lusizi Nhlane, the district’s monthly payroll shows Stalico receives about K98 000 while Chimphambo earns about K96 000.
But the report shows that the two officers were severally paid between K6 million and K9 million. In January this year almost K60 million was paid to nine people—the two officials and seven other non-civil servants who had been introduced on the payroll.
The report shows that Stalico got K9 098 906.47 and Chimphambo recieved K9 091 515.03 while the non-civil servants who received a salary in the region of K6 million are identified as Chimera Sean, Gondwe Dress, Makhuza Sheera, Banda Grace, Hara Bob, Chirwa John and Chambo Eve.
There is variation in terms of payments as in some months the two officers received lower than a million.
In a response via WhatsApp, Nhlane does not seem convinced that the problem is with his council, but the government “especially those who check and approve salaries”.
He explained: “To our surprise, when we got hold of the master payroll for all civil servants from the Accountant General’s Office, we found that the two were getting K9 million and 98 thousand…and K9 million and 96 thousand…9 and zero were added to each.
“We also observed that seven more officers who were not our employees were also on our payroll. The said officers were assisted by an officer from the Department of Human Resource Management and Development [DHRMD]”.
In an interview yesterday, National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said all nine people have been arrested in connection with the syndicate and fiscal police are currently investigating the matter.
Without stating names, he said they have arrested the two officials from Ntchisi District Council, an official from DHMRD and the others put on the payroll.
Said Kadadzera: “They are all in custody as fiscal police is still investigating. The indication is that this may have started sometime back, so we are checking even the period before this.
“But I can also confirm that those arrested are friends and relatives who benefitted from this activity.”
He put the money lost at K138 million, saying the figure may change depending on investigations.
According to Kadadzera the suspects face three charges—fraudulent and false accounting, theft by public servant and money laundering.
Weekend Nation has established that preparation of salaries in government is a process that involves individual ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), DHRMD and the Accountant General.
Every month, MDAs submit what is known as GP5 forms to DHMRD to ascertain that those paid are indeed those in the system and this, after verification, is sent to the Accountant General for payment.
The syndicate, therefore, raises questions on the effectiveness of the Public Finance Management System, especially that someone could manipulate it for months without being detected.