Leader of the Opposition Jack Mwiimbu says the fight against corruption is failing because the PF government has killed the independent media.
And Nkeyema UPND member of parliament Kapelwa Mbangweta says corrupt high profile people must be investigated, named and shamed without exception.
Debating the budgetary allocation to the ACC yesterday, Mwiimbu also charged that the ACC had been aiding and abetting the corrupt.
“Anti Corruption Commission has disappointed the people of Zambia. This is because ACC is aiding and abetting corruption in this country. ACC, madam chairperson, has been defending people who are corrupt. The people of this country have complained pertaining to a number of corruption allegations and whenever the people of Zambia report matters to ACC, they are told to bring the evidence. The people have to report, it is up to ACC to investigate. It is not the people of Zambia to be investigators and produce evidence and give the evidence to ACC, that is the duty of the Anti Corruption Commission,” Mwiimbu said.
“ACC was quick to defend the procurement of fire tenders, they informed the nation that there was no corruption. Why did they do that? It is because they were part and parcel of the selection process pertaining to the procurement of fire tenders. The problems that the Anti Corruption Commission is finding themselves in, is because they are part and parcel of the committees pertaining to tenders. How can you be part of a system and you want to investigate yourself? They must detach themselves from being part and parcel of the procurement tender committees. That’s where the problems start from. We are all aware that those vehicles are second hand vehicles and we are made to understand that they were assembled in Spain. Why can’t they investigate? We are all aware that government paid US$1 million for those fire tenders but they insured them for US$250, 000! What evidence do you want to show that there’s corruption in the procurement of fire tenders? I’m ashamed myself that we have an Anti Corruption Commission that has shamed us in this country by failing to perform their duties.”
He observed that lack of a conducive environment for the independent media to operate was one of the reasons why the fight against corruption was failing.
“The other issue which is making us fail to fight corruption in this country is the propensity by the PF government to destroy the independent media. The independent media used to bring out a number of issues pertaining to corruption. Unfortunately we have made it impossible for the independent media to operate independently and be one of the whistle blowers pertaining to corruption. Further, this House has failed the people of Zambia by failing to pass the freedom of information bill. The freedom of information bill would have enabled members of the public to get information from government institutions,” Mwiimbu said.
And in apparent reference to former ACC Director General Rosewin Wandi, Mwiibu said he was aware that some people had resigned due to political pressure.
“I’m also aware that ACC has been failing its own personnel. A number of Director Generals have resigned from this particular institution due to political pressure despite the fact that there’s a perceived security of tenure. I cannot mention names but it is a fact that they have resigned. I’m aware of three Director Generals who were made to resign. One was even fired when in actual fact the head of state at the time had no power to fire the director general. The matter had to go to court. We should be seen to be protecting the officers of this particular institution if we have to fight corruption. I earlier said that I will not support this particular vote but I reluctantly support it hoping that ACC will rise to the occasion and ensure that they effect the mandate that has been given to them by the people of Zambia and this House,” said Mwiimbu.
Meanwhile, Mbangweta asked the ACC to investigate and prosecute high profile people without hesitation.
“What we expect from that institution under the leadership of the new Director General, we want to see high profile people being investigated and prosecuted. No stories. Since last year which high profile case have they handled? If you check it is small fishes and people only appear there if you differ with the system. When your colleagues now want to victimize you, then they will call you. That should not be the way we operate. Those people from ACC cannot come and sit here and try to say they are doing their job properly. They are not. Because people are complaining about ourselves as senior politicians and it doesn’t mean that we are all clean. How come in the previous governments senior politicians were being arrested or investigated, what has changed? Are we all so clean now that they are no issues? I don’t think so because on the contrary more complaints about corruption have escalated,” he said.
“We want to see that all these high powered people without exception are named and shamed so that corruption can be mitigated. You cannot say you have zero tolerance to corruption when in the evening you are doing other things because it is what you do which matters and not what you say. And people on the streets can see what is happening.”
Mbangweta called for the arrest of anyone who hindered investigations of the ACC.
“All the people who are inhibiting the investigations of anybody who has committed corruption must be arrested as well. In the context of a poor country, why would we be going for the most expensive items in whatever shape or form? All what we need is a cheap and functional items. That is all. When we become rich, we can do anything,” said Mbangweta.