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Zambia parliament under fire for allocating funds to first lady's office

Xinhua, December 10, 2016 Adjust font size:

Parliament's decision to allocate funds to the office of Zambia's first lady received a sharp reaction from an opposition political party on Friday, saying it was fraudulent.

On Tuesday, parliament approved the allocation of 1.5 million Zambian Kwacha (150,000 U.S. dollars) to the Office of the First Lady, with ruling party lawmakers describing her as a hardworking mother whose altruistic works were helping to uplift the welfare of vulnerable people and that the office needs concerted support.

But the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) has described the move as "fraudulent and institutionalized theft of public resources" as the office was not provided for in the constitution.

"The so-called "Office of the First Lady" is an imaginary office which does not legally exist and it is theft of the highest order to allocate public funds to an office which is not only illegal but actually does not exist," Antonio Mwanza, the party's spokesperson said in a statement.

He cited Article 265 of the country's constitution which stipulates that only public offices, state organs and state institutions are entitled to state funding, adding that any other entities not included in the category are not entitled to state funds.

"And clearly the 'Office of the First Lady' does not fall under any category of the aforementioned categories. In short, the Office of the First Lady is illegal and does not deserve to be funded by taxpayers," he added.

The opposition leader further questioned how the money allocated to the first lady will be accounted for when there were no financial regulations guiding how the money was going to be spent, adding that it was bound to be misappropriated.

Parliament, he said, has a solemn duty to ensure prudence, transparency and accountability in the manner public resources are allocated and managed. Endit