There has been a shake up at the National Audit Office (NAO) which has seen seven section heads unceremoniously moved to the Central Internal Audit office within the civil service at a time investigations into the looting of taxpayers’ money in government are going on.
The people who have been moved include two assistant auditors general, Charles Njala and Eliam Simwaka; chief auditors George Nthengwe, Allexious Mitengo, a Mr Tchoka, Mr Chinyumba and Mr Chidothe.
A source within the Auditor General’s Office said the people who have been transferred to the audit unit in Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) were section heads and their absence would be felt.
“But all indications are that the reasons [for their transfer] are administrative. Nothing to do with Cashgate or the forensic audit,” our source said.
However, it has been the wish of donors under the Common Approach to Budgetary Support (Cabs) to rope in private sector auditors into the NAO and these moves could excite them.
But while confirming the movements in response to a questionnaire on Friday, NAO corporate communications manager Thomas Chafunya described the transfers as normal in the civil service.
He gave as an example the transfer of the deputy auditor general Rex Chiluzi as principal secretary 2 in the Ministry of Transport as one such normal transfer.
“Yes, I can confirm that seven senior management members of staff, including two executive managers have been redeployed to the Central Internal Audit (CIA). This is normal in civil service as staff can be moved by the DHRMD across, up and down the civil service strata,” he said.
However, the shake-up comes at a time when NAO is involved in forensic audits into the loss of money at Capital Hill, of which the preliminary one covering April to September 2013 has since been concluded, but a major forensic audit covering the period 2005 to March 2013 is yet to take place.
“This development will not in any way affect the ongoing forensic audit process since different teams were constituted from day one and the said officials were not part of it, but of course other ongoing planned audits other than forensic audit will need internal planned handovers,” Chafunya said.
He said Auditor General Stephen Kamphasa had emphasised that the forensic audit process is not and is never under any threat because of this development.
However, the Auditor General has on several occasions told the media that his office is grossly understaffed such that NAO is unable to fulfil its mandate.
Chafunya was not aware who authorised the transfers but suspected the Department of Human Resource Management, but the principal secretary Sam Madula said on Friday his office was not involved in NAO staff matters.