London based Africa Confidential has defended the stories it has been running on Zambia which has exposed grand corruption in key government departments.
The publication which has existed since 1960 has in the recent past published a series of articles on the state of Zambia’s public finances and President Lungu’s perceived failure to address corruption.
Some sections of the Zambian society have since labeled Africa Confidential as unprofessional and an agent of western propaganda.
Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya charged that Africa Confidential was involving itself in a malicious campaign against President Lungu’s administration.
But the Deputy Editor of Africa Confidential, Andrew Weir, told the Guardian that the publication practices Journalism of the highest standards.
“We stand by our sources of information and our level of reporting,” Mr Weir said.
Mr Weir has charged that the Zambian government has “been borrowing like crazy.
And Mr Weir said on Focus on Africa programme on the BBC on Tuesday evening that the Zambian government initially “misrepresented things that we were saying.”
“But we’ve been covering this growing debt crisis and problems about public expenditure – what they are spending the money on – for some time now,” Mr. Weir noted.
Asked why Africa Confidential started an investigation bordering on Zambia’s debt, Weir responded that: “This isn’t like a great investigation like spotlight movie, something like that.”
“Our correspondents started finding out stuff about what was going on in terms of the loans that have been made by China and Chinese corporations and by private ones as well that seem to be well beyond Zambia’s means to repay and we’ve been doing that for a few months now,” he said.
He then gave an example of an unnecessary commercial loan that Zambia had contracted.
“Yes, for example, the recently contracted debt, they contracted…for a twin-engine military transport aircraft for a 100 million Euros and that apparently, to our best information, is a commercial loan. So, why are they spending money on things like that? The [Kenneth Kaunda] international airport which has been in need of a bit of a facelift has been undergoing…and we find nothing wrong with that. But the information that we are getting is that it is being massively overpriced,” Mr. Weir explained.
On the cutting of aid to Zambia by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID,) Weir said: “The DFID thing is slightly different.”
And Mr Weir has charged that the Zambian government has “been borrowing like crazy.”
“On one hand they (the Zambian government) have been borrowing like crazy for things that some people say are a waste of money. But on the other hand, there’s money that come from aid budget, that come from taxpayers from Britain and Europe and United Nations agencies towards social security payments, towards education and towards health. Now, that’s the money that there have been reports which said the money is being diverted [and] which have been investigated by the Zambian government itself,” said Mr. Weir.