Transparency International Zambia Executive Director Wesley Chibamba says he is saddened by law enforcement agencies reluctance to arrest public servants who where singled out in the latest Auditor General’s report despite giving an assurance to the public.
Chibamba observed that Zambia had a weak law enforcement system which was encouraging repeated abuse of public resources.
“We have always bemoaned the reluctance of law enforcement agencies to move into action when it comes to culprits named in the Auditor General’s report. It is sad. I mean, for someone to be named in the Auditor general’s report, it obviously means the evidence is already there into these officers found wanting,” he said.
“We are equally wondering why these law enforcement agencies have not moved into operations. Of course, administratively they have already been suspended, but then we wonder if they are to tell us that they need to investigate. We wonder what kind of investigations they will be conducting because there is enough evidence in the Auditor Generals report. Already there is glaring evidence in that report. We bemoan the reluctance of the law enforcement agencies to move into action by bringing the culprits to book.”
He said it was not only about arresting the culprits but recovering the stolen resources.
“It’s not just about arresting these people, we want to recover the resources lost as well. The resources that were lost have to be recovered. Arresting then is not enough, they will go to jail for two years and then come out and continue living freely. That doesn’t help the nation. Our view has been that such people should be quickly convicted and sentenced to hash prison sentences So that we deter people from committing similar crimes. But apart from that we need to recover our resources by confiscating their assets. Once they are convicted, their assets must be forfeited to the state,” said Chibamba.
“But obviously, our systems are very weak, they are not deterrent enough to stop people from plundering public resources. If they were strong we wouldn’t have had such cases of increasing abuse of public resources year-in year-out. They wouldn’t have been doing what they keep doing every year. Our systems are porous. That is why even law enforcement agencies take their time to probe cases. They know that no one is going to be on their necks to dispose off cases. So, our systems are too inherently weak and that has always been our concern.”