Zambia sacks minister over graft scandal

2018-09-19 18:12
Edgar Lungu (File: AFP)

Edgar Lungu (File: AFP)

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Zambia sacked its development minister on Wednesday a day after Britain suspended aid payments to the country over a mounting row about alleged corruption in President Edgar Lungu's government.

Community Development Minister Emerine Kabanshi, who was in charge of a social payments programme which Britain said had been abused, was fired for alleged misuse of funds, government spokesperson Dora Siliya said in a tweet.

On Tuesday, Britain's ambassador to Lusaka, Fergus Cochrane-Dyet, tweeted that Britain had frozen "all bilateral funding to Zambian government", adding that "UK Aid takes zero-tolerance approach to fraud".

Britain's development ministry says on its website it earmarked $63.1m in aid for Zambia in the 2017-18 fiscal year.

"His excellency, President Edgar Lungu has acted swiftly, relieving Hon E Kabanshi as minister of community development following misuse of funds allegations in her ministry," wrote Siliya.

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 $4m 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.

Lungu's office said previously that preliminary findings suggest $3.9m was still owed to the intended beneficiaries of the British-backed social payments scheme across the aid-dependent country.

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