THE Zambia National Farmers Union K34 million misappropriation of funds saga if not properly handled will halt more donor funding not only from Finnish and Swedish governments but also other well-wishers, the Zambia Volunteers Network (ZVN) has observed.
In an interview yesterday, ZVN president Gerald Chiluba described as unfortunate and worrisome the colossal amounts of money involved, stating that there was need for accountability, professionalism and transparency by institutions entrusted with public funds as they were meant to improve people’s lives.
Mr Chiluba said that the agriculture sector was the backbone of the country’s economy, explaining that the current situation at the ZNFU raised more questions than answers and that it had the potential to instil lack of confidence in non-governmental organisations by donors as well as sympathisers.
He called on relevant authorities such as the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) and the police not to drag their feet on the matter but bring to book people involved in the scam and make them accountable.
“As ZVN, we have been following this case with keen interest as we are also an NGO that is subject to scrutiny.
“We are disappointed and alarmed that K34 million meant for the enhancement of the agricultural sector was misappropriated. We are also aware that it is not only the agriculture sector that benefits from such funding but also education which may suffer a setback.
“It is our hope that this matter will be brought to its logical conclusion, and we call on relevant authorities such as DEC, ACC and the police to bring to book the culprits involved as this incident may halt funding not only from the Finnish and Swedish governments but from other donors as well,” he said.
Mr Chiluba said the ZNFU saga had painted a bad image about the country from the international community and has urged fellow NGOs to conduct themselves in a professional and transparent manner.
Both Sweden and Finland have since demanded that ZNFU pays back the K33,944,347 donor funds misappropriated by top officials in suspected high levels of fraudulent activities.
At a press briefing on Wednesday, the donors said that the ZNFU had created a “damage risk” on other programmes in Zambia.
This came to light after a Swiss entity KPMG, which is also a Finnish limited liability company, conducted a private audit at ZNFU.
Swedish head of mission in charge of bilateral development cooperation in Zambia David Wiking told the media that some of the findings in the report were of serious concern and had constituted a breach of the agreement between donors and the farmers’ mother body.
According to the report, the salary paid to ZNFU executive director Ndambo Ndambo had been allegedly inflated by K2,337,120 from what had been communicated to the donors.