21. April 2009

Zambia govt minister quits over graft scandal

A Zambian cabinet minister and ally of the president quit on Tuesday over a graft scandal, a sign that Rupiah Banda's government is stepping up its fight against corruption in Africa's biggest copper producer.
Banda's spokesman Dickson Jere said Transport and Communications Minister Dora Siliya had resigned after a tribunal found she breached the constitution over a $2 million contract she awarded to a foreign firm.
Siliya is the first minister to resign from Banda's six-month-old government, which has faced several accusations of corruption from the opposition and privately owned media.
Banda has vowed to continue a crackdown against graft begun by his predecessor Levy Mwanawasa, who won plaudits from western donors and interantional agencies for his tough stance.
Siliya was investigated over a contract she awarded to a Cayman Islands firm to evaluate assets of the state telecoms firm, Zamtel Ltd., which is due for partial privatisation.
A tribunal headed by Supreme Court Judge Dennis Chirwa said in a report to Banda that she had breached the constitution.
It was not immediately clear whether Siliya would face prosecution. (Reporting by Shapi Shacinda, editing by Tim Pearce, Reuters)

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