PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has ordered an immediate probe into the Social Cash Transfer programme following reports of misuse and corruption that have led to the suspension of aid by Britain.
British High Commissioner to Zambia Fergus Cochrane-Dyet on Monday confirmed through a tweet that the United Kingdom had cut bilateral funding to Zambia as it took corruption and fraud seriously until audits results were availed.
However, chief government spokesperson Dora Siliya yesterday expressed ignorance over reports of the Africa Confidential latest edition that revealed that the UK had cut bilateral aid to Zambia, which was directly funding the Social Cash Transfer scheme.
And in a statement today issued by State House spokesperson Amos Chanda, President Lungu has given Secretary to the Cabinet Dr Roland Msiska a week in which to “take decisive action to curb all malpractices in the administration of the Social Cash Transfer programme”.
“President Lungu has further directed that the Minister of Community Development and Social Services, Hon. Emerine Kabanshi and Minister of Finance Hon. Margaret Mwanakatwe must continue with their engagements with donors to assure them of the remedial measures Government has been undertaking since suspected cases of misuse surfaced earlier this year,”
“Four months ago, the President ordered an administrative inquiry into suspected misuse of the Social Cash Transfer funds but regrets that a comprehensive report was only submitted to his office on 14th September 2018. The Head of State now wants all remaining actions and remedial measures to be availed to him within one week.”
He stated that the Head of State is “gravely concerned with the reported breaches in the administration of the Social Cash Transfer” because they were hurting the poor who survive on this vital safety net.
“I want a speedy and decisive investigation into the matter to establish the status of the disbursement of the Social Cash Transfer programme. Wherever cases of abuse requiring criminal investigations may arise, such cases must be reported to relevant agencies and where administrative action is required I want to see prompt action taken,” President Lungu is quoted as saying.
Chanda stated that tahe President was “as frustrated as the donors financing the programme” because his priority in this regard is the plight of the poor.
“The President is not satisfied with the pace of the ongoing administrative measures and so he wants quicker forensic audits by the Auditor-General and other relevant Government internal audit systems. On instructions from the President, the Secretary to the Cabinet led a government team to a meeting with donors on 5th September 2018, and shared with them the measures being undertaken to address the problems encountered in the Social Cash Transfer programme,” stated Chanda.
“The President has been informed that preliminary information indicates that a total of K43, 819,164 remains outstanding to beneficiaries in Luapula, Northern, North-Western, Muchinga, Western and Copperbelt provinces. The President has directed that the Secretary to the Cabinet takes appropriate action in line with all the provisions of the Joint Financing Agreement between government and the Cooperating Partners.”