Premier Consult chief executive officer Professor Oliver Saasa says bureaucracy in government institutions perpetuates corruption.

And Prof Saasa says there is need to strengthen oversight institutions in the country.

Speaking to News Diggers! on the Sidelines of the FIC 2nd annual conference on anti-money laundering, countering the financing of terrorism and other financial crimes, Prof Saasa said there was so much corruption in Zambia due to bureaucracy in public institutions.

“If we are to stop corruption in this country there are some things that we need to do. I believe that procurement reforms will be one of the things that we will have to refine to combat corruption. We need to start rethinking as a people, as a government how procurement is conducted in this country. We have heard debates arising from the procurement of fire engines, there have been a lot of questions from social media. But let’s assume that the cost of those engines is actually correct, would you really spend that much money on fire engines in a country like ours? In a country that is physically stressed, whether there is corruption or not. The fact that we are buying things that are so expensive means the process itself was corrupt. There is no prudential use of resources and that amounts to corruption. So government needs to look at how we procure, where we procure and what we procure. Much of the corruption that is recorded in this country is not perpetrated by individuals but it is perpetrated by bureaucracy, so essentially let’s look at how we can refine our laws to fight corruption,” Prof Saasa said.

And Prof Saasa stressed the need to strengthen oversight institutions.

“The importance of strengthening oversight institutions for securing good governance is very key in the fight against corruption. Unless you strengthen the capacity of the likes of the office of the Auditor General, the relevance of having such an institution will not be appreciated. You all know what is in the latest report of the Auditor General but then government is busy asking ‘show us the evidence, show us the evidence’. When the evidence came, we heard a few threats here and there but then suddenly I hear the silence. So these are the challenges that this country is facing. Let’s start looking at things differently, otherwise we will continue doing the wrong things constantly,” Prof Saasa said.

“The Anti-Corruption Commission is another oversight institution and I get worried when I hear of the major resignations from that important institution. We need to strengthen these institutions because at the end of the day, it’s human resource that resides in those institutions. It is political will that is needed to support these institutions to operate independently and efficiently. The Public Accounts Committee at Parliament is another oversight institution which needs to be empowered, the financing of that department and follow up on the recommendations that it makes need to be paid attention to, we may need to have legislation that supports immediate reprimand of those that are called to account at that committee.”

Meanwhile, Prof Saasa noted that FIC was one of the few institutions in Zambia which was working under hostile environment for doing something commendable.

“As for the Financial Intelligence Center, for many people they will believe that it is just another one of those institutions but the work being done by this institution is exceptional and these people are working under extremely hostile conditions but they have chosen to be resilient and determined to the fight against financial crimes being committed by criminals in this country. The Financial Intelligence Centre has become famous after the institution disclosed that it was being threatened but this is a sign that the work that FIC is doing is commendable and they need to be empowered and protected by this government and all well meaning Zambians,” said Prof Saasa.