THE misappropriation of more than K34 million donor funds by Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) is a scandal that is going to negate the development of the agriculture sector and will undermine the fight against poverty reduction in the country, Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) resource governance coordinator Tommy Singongi has charged.
Mr Singongi said CSPR was deeply saddened by the looting of donor funds by known and named ZNFU executives and it was, therefore, important for law enforcement agencies to expedite investigations into the plunder so that the culprits could account for their fraudulent activities.
He said it was the highest form of corruption and irresponsibility on the part of ZNFU executives to have looted more than K34 million of donor money meant for Zambian farmers and there was urgent need that the money should be recovered and the perpetrators of such corrupt activities should be brought to book.
Mr Singongi said calls by Swedish and Finish governments that the plundered money must be reimbursed should be taken serious by the ZNFU board of directors who he said could have allowed the looting of donor funds at the institution.
He said ZNFU received funds with the purpose of promoting agriculture as a key tool for poverty reduction and development and such mismanagement of resources was a hindrance to Zambia’s developmental agenda and the credibility of non-state development efforts.
“The ZNFU K34 million plunder scandal has certainly undermined the nation’s efforts in the fight against poverty reduction. This is particularly unfortunate at a time when Zambia is faced with economic challenges and seeking diversification from the mining sector to agriculture which is the second most critical economic sector after mining,” Mr Singongi said.
Mr Singongi said there was need for government law enforcement agencies to take keen interest in ensuring that the findings of the report were acted upon to deter abuse of funds meant for the public good.
ZNFU was alleged to have misappropriated K34 million according to an in depth review which was conducted by an accounting firm KPMG (Finland) as a follow up to the special audit that was completed in February, 2016.
Swedish and Finish governments have since called for the individual repayment of wrongfully spent funds in accordance with bilateral agreements.