United Party for National Development president Hakainde Hichilema says the Patriotic Front must go because they are a bunch of thieves.

On Tuesday, President Lungu ordered Secretary to the Cabinet Dr Rowland Msiska to conclude investigations and take decisive action within a week.

President Lungu also directed that the Minister of Community Development and Social Services Hon Emerine Kabanshi and Minister of Finance Hon Margaret Mwanakatwe to continue with their engagements with donors to assure them of the remedial measures government has been undertaking since suspected cases of misuse surfaced earlier this year.

“I want a speedy and decisive investigation into the matter to establish the status of the disbursement of the social cash transfer programme. Wherever cases of abuse requiring criminal investigations may arise, such cases must be reported to relevant agencies and where administrative action is required, I want to see prompt action taken,” Chanda quoted President Lungu as saying.

But in a statement, Wednesday, Hichilema observed that President Edgar Lungu could not stop corruption.

“We have noted the action taken by the UK and other government’s suspension of funding, over the PF corruption and fraud as stated in the AGs report. This social cash transfer programme for which funding has been suspended will affect the poorest of the poor, and not the men and women in PF who drive black tinted land cruisers costing millions of dollars. This action puts the PF on the spotlight after vehemently refuting that they are a bunch of corrupt, heartless and selfish individuals. The PF and Mr Edgar Lungu cannot stop this corruption because they are direct beneficiaries. But what is more heart-breaking is for them to plunder donor funding meant for the old, women and children who have no other means of survival,” stated Hichilema.

“Social services have suffered because of debt, and even the little aid we have received is now being swallowed by debt if not stolen. This is just plain cruel. This must end people of Zambia. It is only morally upright that in order to save themselves as PF leaders and our country, the entire PF team must step down forthwith. PF must go now, they have proved that they are crooks, cruel, thieves and corrupt to the core. This rot must stop now.”

UK, Sweden, Finland and Ireland have all frozen aid to Zambia owing to suspected misuse of funds and corruption.

“Sida is freezing support over suspected misuse of funds within Social Cash Transfer programme in Zambia. Finland, Great Britain and Ireland are also suspending their support. Sweden supports cash transfers to the poorest and most vulnerable in Zambia through the Social Cash Transfer programme. Increasing evidence suggests that cash transfers is an effective means to combatting poverty. The poor and vulnerable get increased possibilities to make economic decisions over, for instance, minor investments in their household or towards increased productivity in their farming, buying more nutritious food or to pay for school fees. A high proportion of the beneficiaries are women. After strong suspicions concerning misuse of funds within the social cash transfers, Sida and the other donors have frozen the use of funds. Problems within the programme were discovered during the spring of 2018, but not until August were there suspicions of misuse of funds,” Sida posted on its website, Tuesday.

“The Zambian Office of the Auditor General is making an investigation into the matter and Sida is carefully following the developments. There are not yet any reports on the amount suspected to have been misused. The agreement between Sweden and the Government of Zambia on support to the Social Cash Transfer programme, covers a total of 165 MSEK for the years 2016-2018. Out of these 130 MSEK has been disbursed up until now. Sida is part of a group of cooperating partners, which includes Finland, Great Britain and Ireland, who provide financial support to the programme. The main part of the programme, however, around two thirds, comes from the Government of Zambia. Corruption is a societal problem that hampers development and makes it more difficult to combat poverty. Sida works actively to detect corruption, acts on all suspicions of corruption of misuse within our contributions and supports anti-corruption in our cooperation countries.”