The National Audit Office (NAO) is not as independent as the office and the public would want it to be in order to effectively do its operations without compromise, Lawrence Kampanje, assistant auditor general, has said.
Kampanje made the down-to-earth admission on Monday in Mangochi on the sidelines of a week-long training for senior audit managers in Management Development Programme (MDP) which is aimed at improving NAO’s efficiency.
Said Kampanje: “According to Section 184 of the Constitution, the auditor general is supposed to report to Parliament through the Ministry of Finance, but the Public Audit Act also obliges him to report directly to the Speaker of National Assembly.
“Hence, the auditor general has no option but to follow what the Constitution says, being the supreme law of the land. That ambiguity makes the job of the auditor general tough.”
Kampanje suggested that NAO should submit its budget and reports directly to the National Assembly as the current funding and reporting mechanisms leave it at the mercy of the Ministry of Finance, which might have its own interests to protect, especially in cases where an audit has faulted it.
NAO last submitted an annual report—which is set to be tabled in December this year—to Parliament in the 2009/2010 financial year, but Kampanje says this will be a waste of time as they would be discussing stale information.
“We need to discuss current issues. Some of the people who were named for their involvement in malpractices in 2009 have changed departments, jobs or even died,” he said.
MDP is being financed by GIZ with technical direction provided by Afrosai-E, Africa’s supreme audit institution for English-speaking countries.
Afrosai-E chief executive officer, Wesel Pretorius, said that there is room for improvement in the way NAO operates, especially now that the country is stabilising politically.
“Malawi has a better chance to improve NAO because politically the country is stabilising and there is regional support which you can take advantage of. It is really up to you to make things happen; otherwise, it is going to be business as usual after going through this training,” Pretorius said.
NAO’s mission is to provide assurance on accountability, transparency, integrity and value for money in the management of the country’s public resources to all stakeholders through quality financial audits.