AID MISUSE WORRIES USA GOVT…Zambian govt must carefully probe Social Cash Transfer matter – Foote

THE United States Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote says his government is “concerned” by reports of the possible misuse of donor assistance in Zambia.

And the United States has urged the Zambian government to investigate the Social Cash Transfer matter “carefully and comprehensively”.

British High Commissioner to Zambia Fergus Cochrane-Dyet last Monday tweeted that the United Kingdom had frozen all bilateral funding to the Zambian government owing to corruption and fraud. This was after the Zambian government, through its spokesperson Dora Siliya, indicated that the relations with the DFID, the major donor to the Social Cash Transfer, were still intact.

And on Tuesday, President Edgar Lungu issued a statement directing Secretary to the Cabinet Dr Roland Msiska to probe the reported abuse of donor funding.

The next day, President Lungu fired community development minister Emerine Kabanshi over the scandal.

So far, other countries that have withdrawn bilateral aid to Zambia are Finland, Ireland and Sweden owing to corruption and misuse of the donor aid.

The latest issue of the Africa Confidential has also hinted that there’s another investigation going on involving tens of thousands of donor funds in the Ministry of Education.

Responding to a press query on the abuse of donor funds meant for the Social Cash Transfer programme, Ambassador Foote stated that the US government was vigilantly examining their programmes in Zambia.

“The United States has been reviewing aspects of our assistance to Zambia, to ensure our longstanding support remains properly aligned with the commitment to cooperation between our governments. As the largest bilateral donor to Zambia, the United States is certainly concerned by reports of the possible misuse of donor assistance,” Ambassador Foote stated.

“The US government has stringent financial and programmatic systems in place for all of our partners receiving funding from the American people, and we regularly conduct robust monitoring and oversight of our partners, including financial and program performance audits. While none of our current aid is disbursed through the Zambian ministries under investigation, we are vigilantly examining our programs.”

He stated that the US government believed that greater transparency and accountability, including a true, demonstrable commitment to combat corruption, were key to Zambia’s self-reliance and prosperity.

“We encourage the Zambian government to investigate the matter carefully and comprehensively, and we urge swift, appropriate penalties against any and all individuals involved in corruption or misappropriation of funds. Corruption is a societal plague that cripples development efforts and robs ordinary citizens of their right to a more,” stated Ambassador Foote.

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