TRANSPARENCY International Zambia (TI-Z) president Sampa Kalungu says President Hakainde Hichilema needs to give space to law enforcement agencies to investigate all the corruption cases he has hinted at in the past few weeks so that culprits can be brought to book.

Commenting on President Hichilema’s revelations that some none deserving suppliers who supplied fictitious goods had been at the top of the list of getting paid during PF’s tenure, Kalungu said law enforcement agencies needed to be given space to pick up that information and conduct investigations.

“Suppliers were supplying ‘air’ which means they were not supplying anything but they were paid even twice. If the President is saying that, one would assume he has information from the Ministry or from the investigative wings that might be looking at dubious dealings in the Ministry of Finance and other Ministries that are responsible for supplying drugs. In that case, we would assume that the President has information and that information is something that is authentic,” Kalungu said.

“From his speaking, we would also assume that we are going to see action following the information that has been given. We are in this euphoria of looking for areas where they are erring and areas where monies were taken and things were stolen. If we are lucky and the President is in a position of information, what we need is for him to give the space for law enforcement agencies to pick up that information and do the investigations.”

Kalungu said there was need for law enforcement agencies to employ a good strategy that could bring some level of orderliness in asset recovery.

“There seems to be this urge to catch thieves and this urge to catch the plunderers but at the same time, there is a fear that these things can be done very disjointedly. I am sure you saw how embarrassing it was even when we support certain actions by the Anti-Corruption Commission in recovering property. You saw how cumbersome it was and trampling on people’s rights when recovering resources, for instance what happened in the case of Amos Chanda,” he said.

“So it looks like there is no good strategy for government and the law enforcement agencies to approach this. Maybe the process of an audit can bring some level of orderliness. Maybe we can look at some contracts that were offered between a certain period and scrutinise them and look at the finances that were paid during a certain period. We can then see if there are areas showing red cards which can need follow ups and investigations.”

Kalungu said people patience would soon run out and they would think government was just shooting in the dark.

“We would agree that perhaps the government should sit down and look at adverse cases after doing an audit. It could be an audit of finance in terms of paying suppliers or it could be an audit of contracts that were offered and certain transactions that happened. Once they do that, then they can have a better approach which is much more predictable, reliable and one which is not haphazard but brings about key results,’ said Kalungu.

“In that sense we would say they need to sit down and look at the transactions that happened over a period of time, choose how to investigate and how to bring those cases to conclusion. Rather than today, you wake up and start running whilst people are looking forward to asset recovery and giving them space, very soon the patience of people will run out and they will think the government is just shooting in the dark.”