Zambian minister sacked over graft claims

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Zambia President Edgar Lungu Wednesday sacked Community Development minister Emerine Kabanshi whose portfolio manages a social cash transfer scheme currently embroiled in fraud allegations.

The president also sacked Zampost postmaster general, whose company was tasked to make payments to household beneficiaries.

The sackings come just days after Britain announced it had suspended all bilateral funding to Zambia in light of potential concerns until audit results were known.

British High Commissioner Fergus Cochrane-Dyet posted on tweeter that: “#UKAid takes zero-tolerance approach to fraud and corruption.”

The suspension of the funding has been done by the Department for International Development (DfID), which supports a social cash transfer scheme which has allegedly been abused by Zambian officials.

However, government spokesperson Dora Siliya downplayed the allegations, saying “relations with all donors was OK as far as government was concerned”.

Local media was quoting an audit which claims Zampost officers paid themselves $4 million for motor vehicles as advance and included bogus beneficiaries on the list.

Britain, which colonised Zambia, is historically the southern Africa state’s biggest donor.

The Zambia graft concerns were published by the London-based Journal Africa Confidential.

It said Finland, Sweden, Ireland and Unicef too had frozen funding and DfID had privately asked for $4 million to be returned.

President Lungu recently asked for an increase of household beneficiaries from 257,000 to 780,000 because the programme was deemed a success.

Zambia is currently grappling with the ever-increasing debt, mostly from the Chinese.

The current regime is largely viewed as having a soft approach to graft, hence doubts abound if any officials could be successfully prosecuted.

It was not clear if Ms Kabanshi who has already been replaced would face prosecution.

Senior government officials are rarely jailed for criminal offences.

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