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THE Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants (ZICA) has said that Zambian Airways shareholders have no authority to invite members of civil society to investigate alleged financial irregularities surrounding the airline.

ZICA president, Chintu Mulendema said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that only the creditors of Zambian Airways had legal authority to ask an accounting association to investigate the matter.

Zambian Airways shareholders who include Post Newspapers last week invited ZICA and several other organisations including the civil society to conduct independent investigations into the dealings of Zambian Airways directors as police started their own probe.

Mr Mulendema, however, said that the creditors of Zambian Airways were at liberty to ask ZICA, which would in turn appoint auditors to investigate the accounts of the airline, which suspended operations last month.

“The setting of the tribunal has nothing to do with Zambian Airways. It is about the conduct of the Minister of Transport and Communications, Dora Siliya and what the Zambian Airways shareholders are doing to invite the Church, civil society and others is wrong.

“It is the creditors that can invite us for a forensic audit of Zambian Airways and not what the shareholders are saying. What the shareholders are saying is not right,” Mr Mulendema said.

The ZICA official said that it was the creditors of Zambian Airways who were aggrieved and they were the ones who were at liberty to invite ZICA to conduct an audit although such an exercise was very costly.

“As ZICA we are ready to appoint an accountant as long as the creditors are willing to fund the audit. It is not something that can take a day. It is an expensive undertaking,” Mr Mulendema said.

Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) executive director, Lee Habasonda said the civil society did not have the capacity to investigate matters surrounding Zambian Airways.

Mr Habasonda said that the civil society could only rely on investigations by the investigative wings.

“I do not think that civil society has the capacity to investigate this matter. Our role is to ensure that there is transparency in the investigations,” Mr Habasonda said.

Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) president, Reuben Lifuka said that although his organisation had not yet responded to the invitation by Zambian Airways shareholders, the organisation was of the view that the final decision would be made by the investigative wings.

“The decision as to whether to participate in the investigation will be made at the board meeting next week. We have received an invitation but we have to look at it during the board meeting,” Mr Lifuka said.

Mr Lifuka said that organisations like TIZ could only complement the efforts of the country’s investigative wings.

Copyright © 2009 The Times of Zambia. All rights reserved

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