BFF-70 Britain freezes aid to Zambia over graft fears

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ZAMBIA-BRITAIN-AID-CORRUPTION

Britain freezes aid to Zambia over graft fears

LUSAKA, Sept 18, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Britain has suspended aid payments to
Zambia over concerns of alleged fraud and corruption by the government of
President Edgar Lungu who has faced graft allegations from within his own
party.

Britain’s High Commissioner to Lusaka Fergus Cochrane-Dyet confirmed the
suspension of funding in a tweet posted late on Monday.

“Correct that UK frozen all bilateral funding to Zambian government in
light of potential concerns until audit results known,” Cochrane-Dyet wrote
in a tweet. “UK Aid takes zero-tolerance approach to fraud and corruption.”

Britain’s development ministry says on its website it earmarked 48 million
pounds ($63.1 million, 54 million euros) in aid for Zambia in the 2017-18
fiscal year.

The amount that has been suspended is unknown.

Former foreign affairs minister Harry Kalaba, who resigned his position in
January this year alleging “swelling” official corruption, said Britain’s
decision proved there was a problem.

“I feel vindicated. The very first time I resigned and when I spoke people
felt that I was speaking politics,” said Kalaba who is still a lawmaker in
Lungu’s ruling party.

“But now the foreign community is saying what I said when I resigned.

“What is sad is that the innocent souls will suffer.”

Last week, the London-based Africa Confidential publication said misuse of
donor funds had pushed Finland and Sweden to freeze aid, while Britain was
demanding the return of $4 million that was allegedly embezzled.

In response to Britain’s move, Lungu called for an investigation into
misuse of funds launched four months ago to submit its findings.

“I want a speedy and decisive investigation into the matter to establish
the status of the disbursement of the (funds),” Lungu said in a statement.

“Whatever 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”.

Lungu’s office added that preliminary findings suggested 3 million pounds
was still owed to the intended beneficiaries across the aid-dependent
country.

BSS/AFP/MRI/2332 HRS