The abuse of K34 million donor money by the management of the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) is a grave offence that must be dealt with in the sternest manner possible to assure donors while sending a signal to plunderers that fraud and abuse of authority will not be tolerated.
“all the proceeds from the misapplied funding should be repossessed and given to beneficiaries because donors sacrificed to ensure they enhanced farming activities in the country.” The President of the National Union of Small Scale Farmers (NUFAZ) in Zambia Dr. Frank Kayula has said.
It was sad, he said, to learn of the abuse of donor funds which could have gone a long way in helping small scale farmers in the country.
Dr Kayula said the reported plunder vindicated the need for his organization whose interest was to serve small scale farmers who failed to grow because resources were diverted to individual pockets rather than the collective vision of empowering farmers.
“We are vindicated by all those reports because small scale farmers have not been benefiting from the union and we are studying the report and should this be true, then it will be a shame to the country, because K34 million is just too much,” he said.
Dr Kayula said it was embarrassing that some countries were sacrificing to fund some organisations to uplift the livelihood of the people, and yet some individuals wanted to take the advantage and benefit from such.
He said that the development was sad and had dent the image of the country, especially that the Government had been implementing some programmes to enhance the agriculture sector through diversification to boost the economy.
ZNFU vice-president Andrew Moffat said he was unable to give a public comment, and that the board was yet to sit and discuss the matter.
Dr Kayula said it was clear that the funding was collected in the name of small scale farmers, and in the process ended up in wrong hands that were benefiting at the expense of the beneficiaries.
“We are sure that funding was collected in the name of farmers, and in the process diverted to other activities, and if this is really true, we can only say ZNFU do not have a ‘heart’ for farmers in this country, and if it is true, then it is unfortunate because the individuals behind the scam were doing it for their own benefit, and therefore they should pay back,” he said.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture Maxam Ng’onga said the Government could not comment on the matter until it was formally advised, because the union was an independent organization.
The detailed 242-page forensic audit undertaken by the donors has revealed glaring abuses of funds, perpetuated over years by senior management complicit with presidents of the organisation.
More than K34 Billion was stolen or misapplied in (old currency) in activities bordering on fraud, tax evasion and sheer abuse of authority.
ZNFU is supported by Finland, Sweden among others.