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Anger in Zambia after audit reveals abuse of Global Funds charity

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- Stakeholders in Zambia on Wednesday expressed anger after an audit revealed glaring abuse of funds donated by the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

According to the audit report of Global Fund grants to Zambia, conducted in June last year, over 1 million U.S. dollars worth of HIV and malaria drugs were stolen from a government agency that purchases and stocks drugs and ended up being sold commercially in Zambia and some neighboring countries.

The report further revealed that antiretroviral drugs were out of stock for almost a month in 10 percent of health facilities while 77 percent of the facilities visited had expired drugs.

The report also revealed that 40 percent of facilities had expired malaria drugs, 27 percent had expired TB drugs, with the value expired antiretroviral drugs valued at 4 million dollars in 2016.

“What the report on Global Fund has revealed in terms of abuse of the global fund is clear display of lack of morality in our leaders and lack of social shame among them, because by now, heads would have rolled,” said Macdonald Chipenzi, executive director of the Governance, Elections, Advocacy and Research Services, a local advocacy group.

He said the minister responsible for health should resign in the face of the revelation of the report, and be investigated in the scam.

Laura Miti, coordinator of the Alliance for Community Action, an advocacy group, said it was unfortunate that hundreds of Zambians were deprived of the much needed drugs due to stealing of drugs by officials in the Ministry of Health.

“Donors have tried hard to keep our people alive but powerful Zambians are killing them by stealing the drugs,” she said.

Lewis Mwape, executive director of the Zambia Council for Social Development, said there was need for stakeholders to find a solution to the problem of abuse of public resources in the country.

He said it was unfortunate that vulnerable people were deprived of drugs and the right to life because of greedy public officers.

According to the report, since 2003, the Global Fund has committed 1,029,768,924 dollars and disbursed 991,295,065 dollars in Zambia.

This is not the first time grants from the Global Fund have been misappropriated in Zambia. In 2010, the Global Fund suspended more than 300 million dollars in health assistance, citing concerns of corruption.



Zambia dismisses think-tank report on fiscal challenges and default risks

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- The Zambian government on Wednesday dismissed a report by an international think-tank that the southern African nation was facing fiscal challenges that may make it default on its foreign debts, including Eurobond repayments.

Eurasia Group, a New York-based political risk consultancy firm, was recently quoted as saying Zambia’s external debt was likely higher than official figures and that although the risk for default was low in 2018, it will increase substantially in 2019 and 2020.

But the Ministry of Finance said the report was not true, saying the government has so far been transparent in revealing its debt situation as well as made commitments on its repayment plan.

“We therefore appeal to stakeholders to desist from publishing unverified data as such actions have the tendency to mislead the general public and cause unwarranted worry among investors and cooperating partners,” the ministry said in a statement.

It added that the varying numbers and guesses on the country’s debt situation were mere presumptions and speculative, adding that the ministry was ready to engage and provide fiscal and debt information.

The government, according to the statement, has no intention to default on its debt obligations as adequate measures have been put in place to ensure that the government fulfills its obligations when the repayments fall due.

The Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, covering projections on all economic and fiscal numbers over a three-year horizon, also provides a projection of fiscal operations and debt service, it added. 


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