Young African Leaders Initiated president Andrew Ntewewe says his organisation is still preparing a reaction to allegations that its officers were involved in theft of donor funding, adding that the claims were malicious.
And FODEP says the British Council has not yet availed the institution with the findings of the preliminary audit report for it to issue appropriate responses while SACCORD, which is one of the NGOs cited, could not comment as officials were reported to be in a meeting.
Meanwhile, ActionAid says the development has dented the image of the civil society in Zambia.
On Monday police confirmed fraud, implicating Civil Society Organisations, among them SACCORD, YALI and FODEP for financial impropriety involving one of UKAid funded programs called Zambia Accountability Project, a £26 million project.
The project was meant to run from 2014-2018, aimed at supporting effective collaboration among elected leaders, government officials, civil groups and private businesses on prioritized government reform and development problems.
But Ntewewe said in an interview with News Diggers! that it was unfortunate that people where orchestrating an evil campaign against the organisation.
“Right now I want to remain tight lipped because most of the information that is out there is very malicious and very fabricated. We are going to inform the nation in detail, our side of the story. What we have seen on social media is very fabricated and very malicious. Its absolutely unfortunate that people are orchestrating this very evil campaign against us. We will inform the nation very soon. Right now what is clear is the fact that people are shooting in the air,” said Ntewewe.
“Everybody is shooting in the air, even political parties, some of them that speak unpalatables against us, are shooting in the air. So we can only say to them that ‘please we wish you well, continue shooting in the air’ because they have no single fact whatsoever. And they don’t even know anything as to what actually happened, whatever happened and so forth. They know nothing so they can continue shooting in the air. Because rules of natural justice demands that everyone must be heard. So, we are going to have our say and we are going to say what we know and what the truth is because right now they are all fabrications.”
And in a statement, FODEP national secretary Jacob Goma stated that the preliminary audit report had not yet been availed to the institution.
“First of all, FODEP has promoted good governance and accountability in Zambia for over 25 years and finds it unfortunate that its name has been embroidered in these serious allegations. Secondly, the organization would like to inform the public and its stakeholders that having monitored elections for many years, FODEP has proven commitment to financial accountability of all donor resources and remains focused to spearhead its mandate in spite of the current allegations and ensure that it is not detracted. FODEP wishes to put it on record that it signed a contract with The Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) to implement the 2016 general elections activities and to the best of our knowledge, we met contractual obligations and terms leading to the closure of the project by the project manager, EISA. To this date, the Project Manager has not expressed any misgivings to FODEP. Further, the public may wish to know that FODEP has not been availed the preliminary audit to enable the institution appreciate its findings and respond,” stated Goma.
“FODEP relishes financial accountability to both the public and donors. Therefore any information regarding the forgoing will be made known to the public through official sources.”
Meanwhile, ActionAid country director, Nalucha Ziba said investigative wings must carry out an investigation in order to exonerate the accused NGOs.
“With regard to Civil Society Organisations who have been cited in issues of accountability, as civil society we are always at hand to demand for transparency and accountability from government. So what that case has done is that, it has just dented the civil society image in Zambia. We call upon the investigative wings to carry out the investigations because money is involved. Its quite unfortunate that civil societies can find themselves in such scandals. So for us civil societies, before we ask to remove a speck in the governments eye, probably we need to start removing those specks within ourselves,” said Nalucha.