The Zambia Council for Social Development has challenged the British Council to hold the Zambia Accountability Project (ZAP) responsible for the reported financial fraud, saying the recipient NGOs were not directly linked to the fund.

In a statement yesterday, ZCSD executive director Lewis Mwape said most regional and international organisations were in the habit of resolving their internal problems relating to financial frauds administratively, while portraying local organisations as unaccountable.

“Over the past three weeks, ZCSD has received numerous press queries on the alleged abuse of financial resources by some local Non-Governmental Organisation; namely FODED, SACCORD and YALI. We note that this was first speculated in the social media but all named investigative wings of government issued official statements declining having received any such complaints from the Department for International Development (DFID). However, few days later, the Zambia Police Service confirmed that police had finally received a formal report from the British Council on the suspected fraud on one of the UKAid Funded project, the Zambia Accountability Project (ZAP). We have carefully followed the debate and appreciated those that have made their own observations and demands. However, ZCSD has always chosen to be objective and upholds the value of fairness,” Mwape stated.

“As the public may be aware, ZCSD had written to the British High Commission on the 22nd February, 2016, expressing our concerns and the letter was shared to the media recently. We note with regret that regional and international organisations are in the habit of resolving their internal problems that relate to financial frauds administratively but portray that local organisations are not accountable. In this particular case, the public may wish know that the British Council through ZAP did not entrust the Zambian Local organisations with their funds as most of those mentioned in the Social Media either to have been cleared or to have been linked to Financial Fraud were only sub-granted by Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA) which was directly funded by the British Council through ZAP to monitor the 2016 General Elections. In this regard, ZCSD is of the view that the British Council must hold EISA accountable for any financial misconduct.”

Mwape further advised the British Council to desist from taking up responsibilities that were not assigned to it adding that following up on the NGOs that misapplied funds was not the responsibility of the British Council but that of ZAP.

“It is also our considered view that, if indeed our Local organisations mentioned in various social media platforms did not account for resources received from EISA, it must be the responsibility of EISA and not British Council to report those organisations to relevant investigative wing of government. Given the funding web explained above, ZCSD cogitates that the named Zambian Civil Society organisations may be mere actors in the ‘Theatre of the Ghosts’ and as such we earnestly appeal to the ZAP through the British Council to disclose the extent of malpractice to avoid social media speculations and ensure that all those involved are followed by the law without any form of selectivity,” stated Mwape.