Defence ministry executive director Wilhelmine Shivute was yesterday at pains to explain how the ministry paid over N$300 000 to a non-existing attaché purportedly posted to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
“The Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with international travel restrictions, prevented us from sending an investigative team to the DRC,” Shivute told the parliamentary standing committee on public accounts when asked how far the ministry is in compiling the report on the matter.
In June this year, auditor general Junias Kandjeke, in the latest ministry of defence audit report tabled in parliament, found that the ministry paid N$303 391 to a non-existing attaché’ purportedly stationed in DRC.
Kandjeke in the report confirmed that indeed a defence attaché was appointed on 21 January 2014 and accredited to the DRC for four years.
The attaché’s term commenced from 1 March 2014 to 28 February 2018.
However, Kandjeke said, during the period under review, no one was appointed as a defence attaché to the DRC.
Furthermore, Shivute denied auditors were barred from auditing military equipment and operational military bases, saying the ministry and the office of the auditor general has engaged and reached common ground on the matter.
“The ministry did not have a problem with the overall auditing of the ministry books, accounts and assets. The ministry only has a problem with inspection relating to the auditing and publishing of key performance indicators (KPIs) on performance information, which included the verification on the state of military equipment and the readiness of the NDF,” Shivute explained to the committee chaired by member of parliament (MP) Dudu Murorua.
When asked on what grounds the auditors were denied access, Shivute said it was because they are not authorised to perform and investigate an audit into military capabilities and readiness of the NDF.
However, she said, the auditor general is authorised to access military equipment and assets to investigate relation to an account, account book, register or statement of the ministry.
On what the ministry has done to control unauthorised expenditure, Shivute said they have taken rigorous control measures, including a timely request for virementation of funds to the ministry of finance.
She also said the ministry has improved bookkeeping in commitment registers to the lowest item level, while suppliers accounts are reconciled monthly.
She also noted there is an improved follow up with suppliers of goods and services as well as the frequent reconciliation of funds.
She agreed with the auditors’ findings on the over-expenditure on the administration division for N$2 million, which comprises 0.03% of the total budget, and the transport subdivision for N$2.8 million, which comprises 0.33% of the total main
However, she said she did not agree with the auditors’ finding on the expenditure on construction, renovation and improvement subdivision in the development budget to an amount of N$122 million.
“The integrated financial management system allows for the “internal” virementation of funds between development projects under the same subdivision of the respective main division,” she
“These internal virements affects only the funds distribution certificate (FDC), which is regarded as the day-to-day commitment and expenditure tracking tool, and does not affect the general ledger, which on the other hand is appropriation within the subdivision.”