Friday, October 30, 2009

Zambia government disbands anti-corruption task force

The government of Zambia has disbanded an anti-corruption task force saying it's was too expensive to maintain.

Experts say that scrapping the anti-corruption efforts will cost the country in aid. Already, 33 million dollars have been withheld from donors. The withholding stems from charges of 5 million dollars being stolen from the health department by government officials.

From Reuters, we read more about the strange decision from Zambia.

Vice President George Kunda said late on Thursday the government would consolidate operations of the main Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) after disbanding the task force, which had become expensive to finance.

"The cabinet agreed on Wednesday that the task force on corruption would be transformed into a department in the ACC and all its cases will be taken over by the commission," Kunda said.

Some Western donors have withheld $33 million in aid to the Health Ministry after prosecutors said some senior officials had stolen $5 million from the health budget.

Lusaka professor of economics Oliver Saasa said the move would hurt Zambia's chances for getting more aid.

"It is a double edged sword with long-term effects of how much money donors will give Zambia, if we are seen to backtrack in the fight against corruption," Saasa told Reuters.

The anti-corruption task force was formed by the late president Levy Mwanawasa to investigate graft during the administration of former president Frederick Chiluba, which ended in 2001 after he served two five-year terms.

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