Dowa District Council is in turmoil following the disappearance of about K20 million of Local Development Fund (LDF) money which is suspected to have been embezzled by officers.

The officers are still working normally despite an audit report implicating them, according to sources.

A letter by a whistle-blower to the Director of Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB), copied to heads of LDF and the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament among others, alleges that senior officials at the Ministry of Local Government have been preventing the course of justice to take place.

“The National Local Government Finance Committee (NLGFC) following reports of financial irregularities of LDF funds at Dowa District Council instituted an audit team. The team found that the officers charged with the responsibility of managing LDF funds have mismanaged the funds. Initial findings indicate that over K20 million could not be properly accounted for.

“The NLGFC directed the DC for Dowa to report the suspects to police as per the requirement. However, the DC was stopped from reporting to police by a directive from Ministry of Local Government which said the issue would be handled administratively,” reads the letter in part.

Executive Secretary for NLGFC Wezi Mjojo, who initiated the audit, confirmed the development in a telephone interview.

“I can confirm that those reports are true but the figure is around K19 million. As NLGFC, we only conducted the audit and the rest remains with the police to do their job. Whether this has taken place or not, is not for me to say. You can find out the rest from the ministry,” she said.

But spokesperson for Ministry of Local Government Maganizo Mazeze, while acknowledging the disappearance of funds at the district, gave conflicting figures altogether.

“The issue at hand is true except that the initial figure was K18 million. However, after reconciliation of figures it was discovered that K6 million was not accounted for,” he said, adding:

“The officer involved (Mr. Hartley Nyamasaka) was arrested and subsequently taken to court. After police search at his house, K227,000 was recovered and will be used as evidence in the court of law. The suspect is currently on court bail. Government will comply with the legal process until justice is done on the matter.”

Mazeze, however, disputed allegations that senior ministry officials were obstructing justice on the issue.

“The suspect was arrested and taken to court,” he said. “Shielding of someone from facing justice is out of question here.” Reported by Archibald Kasakura

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