Deputy speaker of the national assembly Catherine Namugala has directed that the Committee on Finance to deliver to the house a comprehensive statement on the social cash transfer scandal, which will include clarifications on whether the monies for the program went missing.
The Deputy Speaker said this when she delivered a ruling on a point of order raised by Mazabuka central member of parliament Garry Nkombo who wanted to know if Finance Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe was in order to remain quite over the recent revelation in one of the Daily Nation that the missing money for the social cash transfer program is in fact safely kept in a ZANACO account.
In his point of order Mr. Nkombo reminded the house that the Minister of Finance had earlier indicated to the house and the country that government and the president had known about the missing funds for the social cash transfer program since June 2018 and preliminary investigations had been instituted which revealed that indeed the money was missing.
He wondered how the Minister of Finance could keep quite on the news reports by the Daily Nation that the money had been found.
In her ruling, Ms Namugala directed that since the Committee on Finance is already working on a statement regarding the Social Cash Transfer issue, the concerns raised by Mr. Nkombo should therefore be included and answered comprehensively.
The Daily Nation reported that the £2,762,196.68 for the social cash transfer programme which the British government accused Zambia of misusing, was intact in a Zambia National Commercial Bank (ZANACO) account, where it has been sitting since December 2017.
According to bank documents which the Daily Nation had sight of, DFID financial contribution to the social cash transfer disbursed in December, 2017 was still intact and was in the process of being given back to the donor once authorisation was granted by the Secretary to the Treasury.
The Daily Nation also said that contrary to media reports, the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services and the DFID have been discussing the issue of the donor’s financial support disbursed in December 2017, and at no time was mention of a freeze made.
The Daily Nation said that they had information that the money from the UK’s DFID which donors want refunded following revelations of
alleged SCT funds abuse, is still intact and sitting in a ZANACO account since it was transferred there in December 2017 by the Central Bank.
British High Commissioner to Zambia Fergus Cochrane-Dyet, in a tweet last week said his government had frozen all bilateral funding to the Zambian government in light of potential concerns and until audit results were known.
According to correspondence the DFID was availed a full report of the disbursements from the Ministry as well as a bank statement.
The donor organisation was also informed that its demand for a refund of its £2.7 million, would be effected once approval was given as per government requirement.
According to the Daily NAtion, other reports indicate that for instance, the September 2017 disbursement of £2,599,049, was given to Eastern, Central, Lusaka, Southern and Copperbelt provinces.
The British High Commissioner had earlier tweeted: Correct that UK frozen all bilateral funding to Zambian Govt in light of potential concerns until audit results known. #UKAid takes zero-tolerance approach to fraud & corruption.”
However bank and other documentation clearly shows the funds from DFID hit the donor account on November 6, 2017 from the Bank of Zambia.
The money is still in the Zambia National Commercial Bank donor account for the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services, where it was transferred last year in December 2017 and government is ready to effect the refund once approval is granted.
The money in question was disbursed in December 2017 as DFID’s financial support to the Social Cash Transfer, a programme which is 75 percent funded by government with the 25 percent balance coming from donors.