Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) has expressed disappointment at the Anti Corruption Commission’s announcement that there was not irregularities in the government procurement of 42 fire tenders at $42 million.

In a statement today, TIZ executive director Wesley Chibamba noted with disappointment the narrow focus with which ACC was looking at the matter being an oversight institution charged with the responsibility of fighting corruption in the country.

“TIZ is deeply saddened and rather disappointed by the response issued by the Anti-Corruption Commission through a statement by the Acting Spokesperson Pastor Dorothy Mwanza on the calls by the public to investigate the $42 million fire truck tender. The public has been calling on the law enforcement and oversight agencies to look into the matter of the firetruck saga because the deal reeks of corruption,” Chibamba stated.

“Firstly, our disappointment is with the narrow focus with which the ACC is looking at this matter, which formed the basis on which the investigation was handled. Corruption has got many forms and occurs in different ways, a fact with which the commission is very familiar. Tender procedures can be followed but the process may still be fraudulent or manipulated and designed to favor certain individuals. So looking at whether procedure was followed or not is quite simplistic. Secondly, there is what is called a ‘legal waste’ of public resources, using legal processes to waste or pilfer public resources. Which we are seeing a lot of in public procurements. In fact, TIZ is on record to have condemned this practice. ACC as an oversight institution has a responsibility to make sure this does not happen.”

And Chibamba stated that ACC needed to re-examine the purchase of the fire tenders taking into account calls from the general public to investigate the matter.

“Further, the ACC acknowledges that they investigated this matter, meaning they had sufficient information to suspect malpractice in the award of the tender to GrandView International for them to institute investigations. If members of the public continue crying foul after they had closed the investigations, the ACC needs to realize that there is something wrong and has the responsibility to re-examine the matter, taking into account that there could be new evidence that points to collusion now that the deal has been concluded,” he stated.

Chibamba insisted that suspicions surrounding the purchase of fire tenders should be investigated in public interest.

“We find it rather unfortunate that, like President Lungu in his statement in New York, they are putting the onus on the public to provide evidence. The public through tax payers money pay for the ACC to do their job, and thoroughly so. As TIZ, we will take it upon ourselves, in public interest, to talk to people connected to the deal to gather as much evidence as possible, including requesting for documents related to the contract from the procuring entity and the supplier and subject them to
public scrutiny,” stated Chibamba.

“This should be public information after all. If the owners of the money, the Zambian people, demand for answers, they deserve to be given answers. Accountability entails answer ability. TIZ will not relent in its fight to promote good governance and zero tolerance to corruption.”