Bogged by the crippling effects of corruption in Zambia, Britain has suspended all bilateral funding to the West African country.
The British High Commissioner to Zambia, Mr Fergus Cochrane-Dyet, posted on tweeter that: “Correct that UK frozen all bilateral funding to Zambian government in light of potential concerns until audit results known.”
“UK Aid takes zero-tolerance approach to fraud and corruption,” he added
The graft concerns have been published by a London-based Journal Africa Confidential.
The report says Finland, Sweden, Ireland and Unicef too had frozen funding, while and Department for International Development (DfID) had privately asked for $4 million to be returned.
The action by DfID, which supports a social cash transfer scheme has, however, been downplayed by the Zambian government.
Government spokesperson Dora Siliya said: “Relations with all donors was OK as far as government was concerned.”
Britain, the former colonial power, is historically Zambia’s biggest donor.
President Edgar Lungu recently asked for an increase of the household beneficiaries of the British aid from 257,000 to 780,000, because the programme was deemed a success.
The southern African nation was currently grappling with the ever increasing debt, mostly from the Chinese.
The current regime was largely viewed as having a soft approach to graft, with many doubting if any high ranking officials could be successfully prosecuted for corruption.
Senior government officials were rarely jailed for criminal offences.
Community Development minister Emerine Kabanshi, who is in charge of the social cash transfer scheme and the postmaster general were yet to comment about the matter publicly.
Corruption in Africa has become an international concern forcing the African Union (AU) to appoint Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to lead the campaign against the scourge on the continent.
Source: East Africa