Sunday, September 27, 2009

‘Zambia’s use of Norwegian taxpayers’ money needs to be revisited’

‘Zambia’s use of Norwegian taxpayers’ money needs to be revisited’
Written by George Zulu and Ernest Chanda in Monze
Sunday, September 27, 2009 2:09:30 AM

NORWEGIAN Agency for Internal Development (NORAD) director-general Poul Engberg Pedersen has said the donor community is following intently events following the acquittal of former president Frederick Chiluba.

And Pedersen has revealed that the Norwegian tax payer is getting impatient with the lack of results for the money being pumped into Zambia's different economic sectors.

Meanwhile, Patriotic Front (PF) spokesperson Given Lubinda has said the rise in poverty and corruption levels in the country is due to an ignorant citizenry, weak institutions and systems of governance introduced by the ruling MMD government.

In an interview, Pedersen said although the donors did not want to interfere with Zambian politics, they were following all events surrounding Chiluba’s acquittal.

“I think you have to ask that question to our Ambassador. The Ambassador here takes care of all the views we have there. I can only say on that point that we are of course following very, very intently what is happening in this case. All of the donors are looking to what would be the outcome. But of course we do not want to interfere in the politics of Zambia,” he said. “Yes, we will continue our support to Zambia there’s a very strong commitment from our government. We have enjoyed working with Zambia over several decades and have also now been here, seeing that there’s still poverty; still very many difficulties in Zambia and the Norwegian government will work with you on that.”

And Pedersen revealed that the rate at which Zambia was spending the Norwegian taxpayers’ money was worrying and needed to be revisited.

He said it was sad to note that the government was failing to deliver to the expectations of the people, hence the ever increasing poverty levels in the country which were, unfortunately, affecting rural communities.

“Corruption and political mismanagement by those entrusted with the management of the country is taking a toll on donor funding and there is need to change both government and society mindset with regards to the use of funds meant at addressing poverty,” he said.

Pedersen told delegates who included former finance minister Ng'andu Magande, Lubinda, Luena member of parliament Charles Milupi, TIZ executive director Goodwell Lungu, traditional leaders and other cooperating partners during the Matantala Rural Integrated Developmen Enterprise [M-RIDE] and NORAD organised workshop in Monze that countries such as Vietnam and South Korea had in the last 50 years improved their economies.

He said it was unfortunate that development aid had continued to be a source of corruption and had failed to produce tangible results as noted by the number of poor people, especially in rural areas.

Pedersen said Zambia, unlike other countries, was capable of avoiding donor aid dependence and bureaucracy as long as those in leadership changed their mindset and took keen interest in the affairs of citizens.

And making a presentation during the workship, Lubinda said a combination of corruption and poverty was too dangerous as it allowed for abuse of public resources for those in authority.

He said weak institutions of governance such as the judiciary, the treasury and the police had led to the abuse of resources by a few individuals at the expense of the majority of citizens.

“The problem with Zambian governance especially under the MMD leadership is that they don't want people to be aware of what they are doing. They like an ignorant citizenry, and that is the biggest problem and the

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