Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter—
Government has ordered an audit of deals approved by former chairperson of the State Procurement Board (SPB) Mr Charles Kuwaza in the past four years in preparation for takeover by a new board chaired by Mr Buzwani Mothobi.The move is in line with the Office of the President and Cabinet’s drive to reform the SPB which hogged the limelight for the wrong reasons during Mr Kuwaza’s tenure. Sources said the OPC tasked the Auditor-General’s Office to carry out a full audit of deals handled by Mr Kuwaza between 2012 and December last year.
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Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Ray Ndhlukula confirmed the audit yesterday. “There are auditors who are going to see what was happening,” he said. “But you should understand that auditors always come when there is a hand-over, take-over.”
Sources said there were high chances the audit would expose the shortcomings that characterised Mr Kuwaza’s reign, particularly since the introduction of the multi-currency regime in 2009. Mr Kuwaza was at the helm of the SPB from the early 2000s, with his contract being renewed on several occasions.
He left the SPB at the end of November last year. But his tenure was tainted with reports of underhand dealings when handling tenders which Mr Kuwaza always dismissed as unfounded.
“After the OPC requested for an urgent audit of the board ahead of the hand-over, take-over, the Auditor-General’s Office immediately asked the SPB to submit financial statements from 2012 to the end of Kuwaza’s tenure at the end of November 2015,” said a source.
“However, there are indications the Auditor-General’s Office has also asked that an internal audit be carried out immediately to have an appreciation of the board’s assets and liabilities.” Added another source: “There are a number of issues that are obviously going to be picked up by the audit.
“For instance, the issue of Kuwaza’s tax evasion that has seen the board’s bank accounts being garnished. “So, when Zimra garnished the board’s accounts, they took all the money that was there. There is also the issue of renovation of the company house where Kuwaza stayed that continued to chew a lot of money.
“There are also a number of things that were happening under his nose which the media has been reporting on over the years.” The Herald in 2014 published Mr Kuwaza’s mega perks, excluding salary, which gobbled about $210 000 that year alone.
Zimra has been demanding that Mr Kuwaza settle his tax arrears, but his reluctance led to the garnishing of the SPB account with an outstanding bill of $1 million. Sources said there was about $230 000 in the SPB’s two accounts which Zimra took.