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Cathy Tukne | ACT NOW

Round of applause to the Ombudsman Commission (OC) for taking the step in ensuring Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of all District Development Authorities (DDAs) are well equipped with the knowledge to manage the District Services Improvement Program (DSIPs) Funding. 

Not only that, but they have been informed by OC that they are subject to the leadership code just like MPs, government secretaries and those public servants subject to the leadership code. They are required to produce annual returns and most importantly ensure the smooth and transparent expenditure of DDA funds.

It is crucial that all the CEO’s are aware of the laws surrounding the management of these public funds and that they acquit for it at the end of every year.

Now that the Government has increased the funding from K10 million per year to K20 million, stringent governance measures by relevant government authorities like the Ombudsman Commission should be applied and maintained.

Key accountability organizations like the Auditor General’s Office, Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), Ombudsman Commission, Police Fraud Office and the Department of Implementation and Rural Development should be fully funded and be free from political interference so they are able to do their job without fear and favor.

As per the list issued by the Ombudsman Commission, it’s unfortunate that some outstanding acquittals date back to 2013 when the DDA’s were being set up and the first DSIP funding released.

Ombudsman DDA acquittal list

The Ombudsman Commission has been so kind in giving “grace periods” to some districts to submit their outstanding 2023 acquittals despite the law requiring acquittals to be submitted at the end of first quarter of the Fiscal Year, March 31, 2024.

It is good to see that some DDA’s have submitted some of the acquittals - not all.

It’s also good to learn that outstanding district funds for 2023, including new funds for 2024 have been held back by the Government until acquittals are submitted and the auditing process is carried out and completed.

The Ombudsman Commission now has a huge task of sticking to it’s words and start to impose penalties to DDA boards who fail to comply.

According to the Ombudsman, failure to comply with existing laws, constitutes to a breach and can prompt further enquiry and referral to the Leadership Code.

The Chief Ombudsman Richard Pagen pointed out that late filing of the annual statements will result in a K20 000 fine, plus K500 fine per month if they continue to delay or fail to submit statements.