Zambia’s investigators on Thursday arrested the ex-head of postal services and two former directors for allegedly diverting more than $20 million from a UK-backed social fund, the anti-graft agency said.
Britain in September 2018 suspended aid payments to the southern African country over concerns of alleged fraud and corruption by the government of ex-president Edgar Lungu.
The development minister at the time, in charge of a social payments programme which Britain said had been abused, was sacked one day after the aid suspension.
She appealed a two-year jail sentence.
On Thursday, the former director of the Zambia Postal Services, Macpherson Mumbi Chanda, was charged and arrested along with two ex-directors for “corrupt acquisition of funds” from the same programme between January 2017 and December 2018.
“The trio, in their capacities as Postmaster General, Director of Finance and Director of Operations… are said to have unlawfully diverted social cash transfer funds” amounting to $20.9 million, Zambia’s Anti-Corruption Commission said in a statement.
The accused have not yet commented on the charges.
They have been released on police bond and face a minimum jail sentence of five years if convicted.
After Britain’s move, Lungu vowed to investigate the get to the bottom of the matter.
Aid payments resumed a few months later.
But his successor Haikainde Hichilema has taken a stronger stance against alleged state corruption since his landslide victory in August pools.
Two former ministers were arrested and charged with graft earlier this week, while the state-appointed provisional liquidator of a major copper mine is facing trial for theft worth nearly $1 million.