World

UK freezes aid to Zambia over corruption concerns

The UK government has frozen direct financial aid to the Zambian government after concerns about widespread corruption.

A Zambian government spokesman admitted to the BBC that $4.3m (£3.3m) meant for poor families had gone missing.

The government is committed to taking action but needs to wait for the final results of its four-month audit, the spokesman added.

Ireland, Finland and Sweden have also suspended aid.

The freeze comes at a time when President Edgar Lungu’s government is under increasing financial pressure.

The British High Commissioner to Zambia, Fergus Cochrane-Dyet, confirmed the aid freeze in a tweet, saying that the UK government has a “zero-tolerance approach to fraud & corruption”.

The UK government will decide on its next move once this has been completed, he added.

President Lungu’s spokesperson Amos Chanda told BBC Focus on Africa that a government investigation had uncovered the corruption.

The money had gone missing from the Social Cash Transfer programme, which allocates money that is paid directly to the poorest in Zambia, he said.

“The president wants answers within a week,” Mr Chanda added.

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