Rep. Matthew Zarzar, Speaker’s Office Provide Contradictory Statement over Alleged Corruption at House of Reps.

Monrovia – Rep. Matthew Zarzar (Sinoe County District #3), chairs the Special Committee set up by House Speaker Bhofal Chambers to investigate the payroll and salary structures of Central Administration denies reports of malpractices at the Lower House.

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Monrovia – In the wake of renewed allegations of corruption at the House of Representatives, a confidant of House Speaker Bhofal Chambers, Rep. Matthew Zarzar (Sinoe County District #3) has debunked the allegations and said all is well at the lower House.

The Heritage Newspaper in its Wednesday, April 24, 2019 edition, published that House Speaker Bhofal Chambers is holding on to an investigative report uncovering ghost names, salary and benefit disparities among the central administration staff.

The central administration staff are civil servants employed at the House of Representatives.

The paper claimed that the Forensic Assessment Report was submitted to Speaker Chambers about a month ago, but he has refused to make it public due to pressure being exerted on him from “powerful forces within the leadership of the House because of vested interest.”

However, the Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Matthew Zarzar termed the publication as false and misleading and noted that the report has not yet been submitted to the Speaker as claimed by the paper.

Addressing the media at the Capitol on Wednesday, April 24, Rep. Zarzar noted that although the report has not been completed, the committee has not come across any issue of salary disparity and ghost name on payroll as reported in the paper.

He said prior to the constitution of the committee by the Speaker, there were reports of ghost names and salary and benefit disparities at central administration, but what the committee is discovering is employees who are on sick leave and investigations have so far shown that those names are real.

“When somebody says Matthew Zarzar and the Speaker connive and are being pressured, that is not true. The fact is that we want to make sure that whatever report we present to the Speaker will be legitimate. It was reported that some guys have been on sake leave for years and it was reported that they were not working and getting pay. We later found out that these people were sick. GAC (General Audit Commission) did an audit and noticed that some of the names were people who are actually sick,” he explained.

He added: “You have to verify all of these things before you report. So, whatever the newspaper is reporting is not true. Nothing is happening. I am sure that nobody owes anybody money. I am not saying hundred percent that everything is perfect here but we have not concluded our report. We verified from sectional heads that people who are not coming to work are on leave. We have not concluded the report so I cannot discuss it right now.”

When pressed about the way things are going at the lower House under the leadership of Speaker Chambers, the Sinoe County District #3 Representative asserted that despite the criticisms, everything is fine, and the government is moving forward.

“When you are in public arena you should expect this. I’ve been in government for 40 years. Jesus Christ was vilified, what about me? There are certain people once they are not in power, they don’t want anybody to be power in this country. Whatever you will do they will criticize you. I am saying we are doing the right thing; the government is doing the right thing and we are moving forward.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Zarzar’s assertions that the Committee is yet to submit the Forensic Assessment Report to the Speaker is in stark contradiction to the political officer in the office of the Speaker, George Watkins’ comments that the report has been submitted to the Speaker.

The Heritage quotes Watkins as saying that the report is in the possession of the Speaker, but because of many legislative engagements coupled with the Easter break, the Speaker has been unable to meet with the leadership of the House for review before forwarding it to Plenary for discussion and subsequent action.   

Watkins added that the Speaker has nothing to hide and will make the report public as soon it is reviewed by the leadership of the House of Representatives and acted upon by plenary.

Following his ascendancy to the Speaker position, the Maryland County District #2 lawmakers, once known for his critical stance against former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has come under staunch criticisms from his colleagues for his “bad leadership style.”

Dissatisfactions from a group of lawmakers headed by Nimba County District #8 led to the formation of the Independent Legislative Caucus (ILC) which they say is intended to bring about sanctity to the House of Representatives.

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