A very serious scandal has been brought to the attention of the public which the government is trying to suppress, downplay and kill by all means possible. Well, all scandals under this Patriotic Front government are serious and huge, but this one is unique because it talks about theft of donor aid and the forging of a bank statement by the government itself to conceal a crime.
A letter has surfaced in which the German Embassy is accusing the Zambian government, through the Ministry of Local Government and Housing, of forging a bank statement to illegally obtain about €3 million from the Development Co-operation account.
According to the complaint letter dated September 25, 2017 and addressed to former Minister of Water Development and Sanitation Lloyd Kaziya, the Germans terminated the agreement and demanded a refund, which was paid. German Ambassador to Zambia Achim Burkart who signed the letter disclosed that in order to cover up an illegal withdrawal from the “urban basket account” in 2016, the Ministry of Local Government and Housing forged a bank statement, and as a consequence, the German Federal Government terminated the urban basket and about €3 million was returned to its budget.
“As Chairman of the water cooperation partners, I wish to refer to our open discussion of April 6, 2017 concerning also some critical topics the water sector is currently facing. Please allow me to bring to your attention unfortunate incidents relating to our co-operation, which highly concern my government as your cooperating partner… In order to cover up an illegal withdrawal from the urban basket in 2016, a bank statement was forged by the Ministry of Local Government and Housing. As a consequence, the German Federal Government had to terminate the urban basket and an amount of about three million Euros was returned to the German federal budget,” read Ambassador Burkart’s letter to the government of Zambia.
“Unfortunately, it came to my attention that apparently, non eligible costs were made available under the rural basket fund and that the KfW, due to the violations of the Financing Agreement, suspended disbursement with immediate effect. This had already been communicated to your permanent secretary. Honourable Minister, please allow me to express my government’s deep concern about these above mentioned facts. It will be highly appreciated if you would give me an opportunity for a personal meeting in order to discuss another issue that is characterised as a reputation risk for the German federal government.”
To start with, this letter which has, by now reached the very last person on social media, has not been denounced as a fake document by the Germany Embassy, and we have confirmation from those in government that it is indeed a legit document received by the addressed ministry.
Now, like we stated in the past, diplomats don’t get to this point easily. There is no way the Ambassador of the Republic of Germany would accuse his host country of forging a bank statement to conceal the illegal withdrawal of donor aid if he did not have his facts verified. It would be an unprecedented diplomatic scandal for a foreign envoy to accuse a ministry of engaging in fraud to abet a crime.
So we are very confident that Ambassador Burkart called this a forgery because that is what it was. He named the Ministry of Local Government because that was the government wing that committed the crime. The only thing he did not do was to make this letter available to the media because that is what would have been undiplomatic. Thanks to the ever-vigilant Zambians working in the civil service, this letter has found itself out here in public domain.
The fact that this fraud was committed around 2016 and that the letter of complaint was written in 2017 doesn’t make it less a crime in 2018. Zambians deserve to know what happened in this scandal. Firstly, who authorized the illegal withdrawal of money from a donor account? Who, in government, forged the bank statement to conceal this crime and on whose instructions was this person acting?
We tried to get a comment from the Ministry of Local Government controlling officer, but we were told that the ministry knows nothing about this letter and they are not aware of any such complaint from the German government. We do not believe that is true. There are so many questions that need to be answered. Why was Minister Lloyd Kaziya fired? Why did the Germans suspend this project?
We demand that the Ministry of Local Government and the Ministry of Water Development hold a press conference to explain this issue. If the government doesn’t want to set the record straight on this scandal, indeed they must accept when we say this is a government of mafias, by mafias for mafias.