TRANSPARENCY International Zambia (TIZ) says people abusing public resources are taking advantage of the situation because they are not being prosecuted.
In a speech read on his behalf by TIZ programmes manager Martin Matabishi, executive director Wesley Chibamba said it was worrying that people cited in audit reports were not being prosecuted.
He said the rampant abuse of public resources was painting a gloomy picture of the country.
“The huge sums of resources lost or mismanaged as reflected in the various audit reports over the years show a gloomy and saddening picture considering that Zambia’s poverty rates are still very high and the economy faces so many hardships,” he said. “The lost resources as highlighted in the audit reports indicate that there is a great opportunity cost to develop Zambia and massively reduce the levels of poverty if these resources were not personalised and mismanaged. What is even more worrying is that despite the audits reflecting various cases of mismanagement of resources, there has been no tangible follow-ups and prosecution of the possible cases and issues in the audits.”
Chibamba added that abuse of public resources by those entrusted with public office accelerates poverty.
“The aforementioned situation has made those who mismanage resources to take advantage of the complacency in following up the audit issues and continue to abuse public resources thereby accelerating the poverty levels by personalising resources meant for public service delivery,” he said.
“Hospitals do not have sufficient drugs, many rural children are unable to attend school because of lack of schools, shortage of teachers and there are very limited health centres and yet the amounts being mismanaged are colossal to improve the lives of the citizens.”
Chibamba said with what was obtaining in terms of management of public resources, TIZ as a civil society organisation, had a role to mobilise citizens to take keen interest and demand accountability.
He urged other civil society organisations to help the general public with relevant information on audits.
“We need to provide members of the public with information about what the audits reflect and make it accessible for them to be aware of how their resources are used and start demanding for accountability from those who are entrusted to manage their resources. Thus, this meeting is very important in working together and protecting our resources from the corrupt individuals who are polarising our drive towards a healthy economy,” said Chibamba.
The one-day meeting for civil society organisations was organised by TIZ and in attendance was NGOCC, SACCORD, JCTR and CSPR.