Administrative Court partially overturned reclamation of Ministry for Foreign Affairs' development cooperation funding to Zambia National Farmers’ Union

Administrative Court partially overturned reclamation of Ministry for Foreign Affairs' development cooperation funding to Zambia National Farmers’ Union

The Zambia National Farmers’ Union appealed to the Administrative Court of Helsinki against the Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ decision to reclaim development cooperation funding from the Union related to a case of suspected misuse dating from in 2015. The Administrative Court’s ruling overrules the Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ reclamation decision partially.

Due to suspected misuse of development cooperation funding concerning the Zambia National Farmers’ Union, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs froze further payments to the Union in 2015, and in November 2016, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs decided to reclaim 9,367,452 Zambian kwachas.

The Zambia National Farmers’ Union paid back 1,994,121 Zambian kwachas (a total of EUR 161,857 at the exchange rates valid at that time in 2018–2020) of the sum, but appealed to the Administrative Court of Helsinki against the decision to reclaim the remaining share. On 26 April 2021, the Court issued its ruling, which overturns the Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ reclaim decision for the remaining 7,373,331 Zambian kwachas (equivalent to about EUR 273,000 at the current exchange rate).

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ decision to reclaim the sum that had already been paid back by the Union (1,994,121 Zambian kwachas) remains valid. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs will not request the Supreme Administrative Court for a leave of appeal, and therefore, the ruling of the Administrative Court of Helsinki is final and legally valid.

In its decision, the Administrative Court deemed that the Ministry for Foreign Affairs had acted incorrectly when failing to state, in the manner required by section 45 of the Administrative Procedure Act, the circumstances and evidence that influenced its decision to reclaim the contested sum and decision concerning the Union's request for an administrative review related to the contested sum. According to the Administrative Court, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs had thus not stated the reasons for the decisions adequately enough for the realisation of the appellant’s legal protection.

The project supported Zambian small farmers and reformed agriculture

Finland supported the Zambia National Farmers’ Union ZNFU with a total of MEUR 7.8 between 2009 and 2015. The project was also funded by Sweden and the We Effect organisation.

With the project, a growing number of small farmers have improved their skills, and the production volumes of the Farmers’ Union members have increased. The project supported the enhancing of the Farmer’s Union members’ farming practices, improving of financial services, and advocacy of interests. The project directly supported small farmers and promoted reforms in the Zambian agriculture.

Development cooperation is monitored closely

Development cooperation and funds related to it are closely monitored. In the last few years, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has developed even further the risk management of development cooperation, the processing of suspected cases of misuse, and the reclaim of funds. Risk management is an essential part of the preparations, decision-making, implementation monitoring, oversight and assessment of development cooperation projects and programmes. 

If suspected cases of misuse are detected in development cooperation funded by Finland, the cases are inspected thoroughly in accordance with internal practices. Misused funds are reclaimed according to internal reclaim instructions.

The  decisions to reclaim that made in 2020 amounted to a total of EUR 151,550. The  decisions to reclaim made in 2019 amounted to a total of EUR 70,689 and in 2018 to a total of EUR 27,455. The majority of these sums has been paid back to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Inquiries:

Juha Savolainen

Director, Unit for Southern and Western Africa, +358 295 351 508