The Killid Group, July 26, 2015

Ex-ministers hang on to privileges

Some former ministers and senior government officials - even those dismissed - have found it hard to give up perks of office, a Killid investigation reveals

By Omed Zahirmal

Amena Afzali, minister of labour and social affairs from 2009 to 2014 continues to use her government vehicle. Wasel Noor Mohmand, deputy minister of labour and social affairs, sought to justify it as a favour shown her because she does not own a car. "The ministry did not get the car back on sympathetic grounds, until she buys another car," he said.

Killid tried to interview Afzali but failed.

General Khudaidad, former minister for counter narcotics, used the official car for three years. According to Mohammad Hanif Daneshyar, the head of information and public relations in the counter narcotics ministry, he did this under special decree of former president Hamid Karzai but now he has handed the vehicle back. His successor, Mubarez Rashedi, had also taken a car when he left the ministry. Daneshyar says he too has returned it to the ministry.

Amina Afzali
Amina Afzali. (Photo: Demotix)

Ziaulhaq Amarkhil, former head of the secretariat of the Independent Election Commission (IEC), is also accused of hanging on to property belonging to the commission including cars. But in an interview with a Killid reporter, he rejected the claim and showed a receipt of goods - not including the vehicles - handed over to the IEC. Referring to the two cars that follow him, he said, "The head of National Directorate of Security (NDS) has given these two cars for my safety. The NDS has reported that I am in danger. I am not claiming the cars."

Awrangzeb, acting head of the IEC secretariat, said Amarkhil has returned all the commission's property.

Fazal Ahmad Manawi, IEC chairman (2010-2013) has not yet handed over his official car. Noor Mohammad Noor, the spokesperson for the commission, agreed that Manawi is in possession of the car, but he did not have further details. Killid could not speak to Manawi since he was out of the country.

Yusuf Shajan, the former governor of Kunar (2002-2003), has also taken an official car and there is no information. Janagha Toofan, the head of the provincial transport department, said Shajan took a '95 model Toyota Prado with him after his mission ended. "I am head of transport for the last 14 years. The car has not been handed over to me." We tried to speak with Shajan but a source said he is now living abroad.

Humayoon Azizi, former minister of parliamentary affairs (2012-2014) and currently governor of Kandahar is also among those who has taken an armored car but he rejects the claim. "I handed back the car in the beginning. You can ask the new minister," he told Killid. Zakerullah, spokesperson for the present minister, said Azizi kept the car for two weeks and then returned it.

Ahmad Zia Massoud, Karzai's first vice president (2004-2009) and currently President Ashraf Ghani's special envoy for reform and good governance has kept vehicles from when he was vice president. However, his spokesperson Rahmatullah Bezhanpoor rejected the allegation. He said the president's Change and Continuity election team had bought some cars during the presidential campaign, which were not the property of the government.

It is said that Mohammad Omar Sherzad, former governor of Farah, took three vehicles along with him. Sherzad was not contactable despite repeated attempts to reach him. Tawab Gorzang, the former spokesperson of the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) said Sherzad has returned the cars to the government. In an email reply to Killid, he wrote, "Sherzad had three cars. He handed over two of them to Farah provincial administration, the third one was faulty and handed over after it was fixed."

To the question whether there are ex-governors and district governors who still use official property, Gorzang says, "When the duty of one (person) ends, government goods are handed over and a receipt is also given, and so I can say that there is no governor or district governor who is using government property unlawfully."

Officers who have stepped down in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) are also accused of continuing to use perks that they enjoyed during their tenure. Dawlat Waziri, the assistant spokesperson in MoD, denies the charge. "The ministry recovers everything when an official leaves the job or resigns. A receipt is not given unless everything is accounted for by the ministry."

However, Abdullah Barekzain, the head of the complaints' commission, says some ex-Members of Parliament (MPs) have not returned weapons issued for their safety. He said he has received complaints, and repeated attempts have been made to persuade the offenders to follow the rules. Ministry of Interior did not respond to Killid's queries.

Meanwhile, Zulmai Zabuli, the head of complaints' commission in the senate, has alleged Karzai's council of ministers were hanging on to privileges they got in government. "We have not received a formal list yet, but I can say that former governors, former ministers and heads of independent offices, all still use government privileges like in the past."

Kamela Sidiqi, assistant manager in the Directorate of State Administration, refused to speak to Killid, while Syed Zafar Hashemi, deputy spokesperson for the president, claimed he was unaware of the allegations of continued use of perks.

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