Zambia’s budget blues
Zambia’s finance minister aims to bring debt to a sustainable level in the 2019 fiscal year. But with almost a third of the budget set to be raised abroad, it’s unclear how this will materialise
Zambian finance minister Margaret Mwanakatwe presented the country’s 2019 budget on Friday against a backdrop of civil society protests and donor dissatisfaction about mismanagement of public funds. Early last month, at least four of Zambia’s biggest co-operating partners suspended their funding of government projects after it was revealed that nearly $5m in donor funds — meant to support 632,000 poor people — was missing from the departments of health, education and local government. In a statement on his Twitter account after the news broke, Fergus Cochrane-Dyet, Britain’s high commissioner to Zambia, said: "It is correct that the UK has frozen all bilateral funding to the Zambian government in light of potential concerns until audit results are known. The UK takes a zero-tolerance approach to fraud and corruption." Finland, Sweden and Ireland, as well as UN children’s fund Unicef, are also withholding financial support. But Mwanakatwe appealed to donors not to freeze aid, saying:...