The Zambian government has suspended more than 80 officials from the ministry of general education after an estimated $1.6m (£1.2m) of donor funds was allegedly embezzled, reports the state-owned Zambia Daily Mail newspaper.
Acting Education Minister Vincent Mwale told parliament on Wednesday that the UK government, through the Department for International Development (DfiD), has suspended funding to the ministry to pave the way for investigations.
He said the funding will only resume after the system is cleaned up.
“Over 80 officers have been suspended for financial irregularities. They remain suspended until further notice,” he said.
The development comes after London based journal Africa Confidential – which has recently been at the forefront exposing alleged corruption and fraud in Zambia – warned there was a huge financial scandal brewing in the ministry.
Last month, President Edgar Lungu fired Emerine Kabanshi, the minister in charge of community development and social welfare, after Africa Confidential reported that $4.3m meant for poor families was misspent. He also ordered a probe into the reports.
But Mr Lungu’s spokesman Amos Chanda has said Zambia has now returned $3.5m donated by the UK government after concerns were raised about how the money had been used.