ZAMBIA: Government audits two universities

Audits are underway at two of Zambia's largest higher education institutions, on the orders of the government, Higher Education Minister Professor Geoffrey Lungangwa told parliament late last year. This followed an attack on the government from parliamentarians over examination paper leakages and political interference at institutions of higher learning.

The University of Zambia and Copper belt University are the two being audited. Lungangwa said efforts had been made to audit operations of universities and noted that in 2008, with assistance from the Commonwealth, the government contracted experts to investigate management and academic programmes at the universities with a view to improving their quality.

"We have put in place short, medium and long-term strategies for addressing the indebtedness of the universities," he said. "We are concerned about the stability of the universities and their efficient and effective operation."

Last year, a report by a parliamentary committee on education slammed examination leakages, among other things. Three years ago, a report by parliament's Public Accounts Committee declared there was mishandling of public funds at some state-controlled higher education institutions while a report by the Auditor-General's office, covering the period 1998 to 2006, found that the University of Zambia had failed to produce annual reports or to control revenue collections, along with evidence of irregular payment of leave. It exposed missing payment vouchers, missing claim forms and pay slips, and overpayment of salary arrears.

The Auditor General's report also said there were irregular payments of pension, irregular sales of houses and leases of the main dining hall, irregular salary increases to principal officers, failure to follow tender procedures, and weaknesses in receipting student fees.