BRITISH High Commissioner to Zambia Nicholas Woolley says any comments that may undermine the integrity of the Social Cash Transfer (SCT) process and the strengthening which the international community have supported over recent years are of concern.
Addressing traditional leaders in Sinda, Sunday, Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya urged them to lie that they are poor and vulnerable whenever they faced SCT officers so that they could benefit from the funds to buy clothes and look smart.
But responding to a press query, Wednesday, High Commissioner Woolley expressed concern over Siliya’s remarks.
He explained that the UK government had been working with its Zambian counterparts and other donors to complete a range of audits and system assessments in devising joint action plans to improve the implementation and financial management of the SCT programme.
“Social Cash Transfers are vitally important to millions of the most vulnerable Zambians. The UK has been working with the Zambian government and other donors to complete a range of audits and system assessments and devising joint action plans to improve the implementation and financial management of the SCT programme. This includes more effective targeting of SCTs by the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services to ensure they only reach those most in need, and use scarce government resources as efficiently as possible,” stated High Commissioner Woolley.
“Any comments which might undermine the integrity of the Social Cash Transfer process and the strengthening, which the international community have supported over recent years, are of concern. The UK continues to provide support through the UN and other partners to help address poverty for poor people in Zambia. For example, the UK has supported technical assistance and drought emergency cash transfers, which were delivered to existing SCTs households through our partner UNICEF.”
Siliya, who is also Information and Broadcasting Services Minister and Petauke Central PF member of parliament, last Sunday urged traditional leaders to lie to SCT officers to benefit more from the scheme.
“I have heard that you traditional leaders don’t benefit from the Social Cash Transfer. We are here to tap about issues that affect our lives, we must not forget. I have heard that you are not benefiting, but the government has said if that was the case, it must not continue. Headmen should be taking Social Cash Transfer as well. So, those of you who would like to benefit from SCT, you must go to the DC’s office so that you can be told how to do it. They will ask you questions:
Does your house have iron sheets? Yes
Do you own cattle? Yes
Do you own a bicycle? Yes
How many times do you eat? You say we manage to eat four times a day…,” said Siliya.
“As you are answering, the machine is recording. It will say that you are not a poor person and you cannot benefit with such answers. Let me share some wisdom with you: if you want to benefit from Social Cash Transfer, the DC will teach you that even when you live in a house with iron sheets, don’t say the truth so that you can be included on the Social Cash Transfer programme. That way, you can have money to buy shoes and bicycles so that you look presentable. As a government, we know that you traditional leaders have a lot of problems.”