Germany has told the Zambian government that in case of any misuse of funds, the full misapplied sum would be reimbursed.
During the government-to-government negotiations that took place between November 27 and 28 in Lusaka, Germany highlighted its zero-tolerance approach to corruption in all development programming and expressed strong concerns about recent cases of misapplication of donor funds in Zambia.
And it has been agreed that all Zambian-German aid programmes would “focus on strengthening accountability and transparency for better service delivery for citizens”.
This is the way to go. And this is how things should be.
Weak public expenditure management is one of the main reasons why our country remains poor despite receiving so much development assistance.
Amongst other things, it allows corruption to flourish and, in turn, corruption is a significant obstacle to the development of effective government systems and, consequently, to the delivery of improved services to the poor masses of our people.
It also undermines the effectiveness of aid programmes and weakens public support for development assistance by creating the perception that all aid is affected.
Within this context, it is easier to understand and appreciate the measures being taken by the German government to ensure that there are proper and effective safeguards in place to protect aid it provides our people from being used for purposes other than those intended.
It’s time we all recognised and accepted the fact that there are risks inherent in disbursement of aid to our corrupt government and take appropriate steps to mitigate such risks in the management of aid extended to our people.
We all have a duty to ensure the regularity and propriety of public funds.
And there’s need to seek ways to meet our responsibilities by taking action at a number of levels.
We highly welcome the measures being taken by the German government to use bilateral aid programmes to improve governance in our country. These measures will help us reduce corruption in government.
These measures will certainly help to improve internal safeguards and protect aid from the risk of misuse.
There’s need for all Zambians to pay a lot of attention to what the Germans and others are saying on this score because they are making a very good contribution to the debate on corruption and are actively seeking ways to raise awareness among our people.
We need to start placing much emphasis on creating good policy environments and strengthening governance as a means of improving the effectiveness of aid and reducing corruption.
Therefore, the measures being taken by the German government deserve the support of all Zambians of good will because they are vitally important in strengthening accountability and improving transparency in the management of our public finances. Tackling corruption in a sustainable way requires a long-term effort and coordinated responses to strengthen our government systems.
And with the increasing use of budget support, aid providers to our country are losing direct control over the use of the assistance they are providing us once they have entered the government systems, exposing them to a different set of fiduciary risks.
There’s need to seek ways of addressing the risks inherent in the disbursement of budget support.
And there’s need for us all to recognise that the German government cannot, alone, be responsible for the elimination of poverty, or the development of government systems in our country. This requires our participation and commitment. Our own actions are paramount in improving systems.
There’s need for a stronger, more consistent message from all that corruption will not be tolerated.