Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) has challenged President Edgar Lungu to use the ongoing attacks against the Financial Intelligence Centre as an opportunity to prove his words that the fight against corruption begins with him.

And TIZ has condemned attacks and calls from the Patriotic Front to disband the FIC and have its director Mary Tshuma prosecuted for the allegedly releasing the trends report without authorisation from investigative wings and government.

In a statement, Monday, TIZ executive director Wesley Chibamba charged that the ongoing attacks against the FIC were a calculated scheme by many selfish individuals in the PF who were involved in criminal activities and wanted to weaken the FIC.

“Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) is greatly saddened by and condemns the calls from the Patriotic Front (PF) to have the Financial Intelligence centre disbanded. TIZ is particularly saddened that the party is even calling for the prosecution of the FIC Head, Mrs Mary Tshuma who they believe authorised the release of the intelligence report without consulting investigative wings and government. It is amazing that the party in power is fighting government institutions and Civil Society are now the ones supporting government entities. As an organisation that believes in the autonomy of law enforcement agencies and other statutory bodies, we believe that this is a calculated move by those who are engaging in criminal activities to have this body weakened,” Chibamba observed.

“It is clear that many selfish individuals are trying to undermine the work of the FIC so that they can cover up their dirty dealing. This is the worst form of state capture, where the interests of a few criminal individuals are being protected over public interests. We are alive to the fact that the work of the FIC is critical in the fight against corruption and if anything, this proposal would presently and in the future weaken the fight. Our concern as an organisation is that today it is the FIC which is under attack, yesterday it was the ACC which was been rubbished and tomorrow it will be the Anti Money Laundering Investigation Unit which will be scrapped. It is unimaginable to think that at a time when corruption is rife under the PF government, such calls are even being contemplated and entertained. What is so surprising is that people are not worried about the contents of the report but are instead trying to sway public attention by attacking an institution which was simply carrying out its mandated duties.”

Chibamba wondered why PF officials would be pushing for the disbandment of such a critical institution.

“The information contained in that report was shared with law enforcement agencies way back before that report ever saw the light of day. Why should the PF mislead the public and say the information was publicised before being given to law enforcement agencies? Better yet, the question to ask here is that why the party in government not asking for speedy investigation and prosecution of those cited not only in the FIC report but other reports like the Auditor General, but rather pushing for the firing of the head of the FIC and the disbandment of such a critical institution. The PF government should have shame. It is simple, if you are innocent, then why should you worry about the report? The report should be embraced because its contents border on serious financial mismanagement and misuse of public resources,” he stated.

He challenged President Lungu and his government to prove its seriousness on the fight against corruption by taking action against those cited in the FIC report.

“The PF government has been crying for evidence of corruption, now that the evidence is produced, they want to vilify the producer of that evidence. Zambians will not tolerate such levels of criminality. Resources which are meant to develop this country end up in the pockets of a selfish and criminal few. We call upon the head of state to demonstrate leadership and support the common good and public interest. He should not to be swayed by such calls to disband the FIC, they should be allowed to do their work without interference. We feel that president Edgar Chagwa Lungu should use this opportunity to live by his words that ‘the fight against corruption begins with me’. What is more amazing is that the Minister of Finance honourable Margaret Mwanakatwe is not lifting a finger to support the Center and her fellow woman at the helm. What is more shocking is that honourable Dora Siliya is in the forefront of condemning her fellow woman in government who is simply doing her work and doing it exceptionally well,” stated Chibamba.

Meanwhile, TIZ has vowed that it would not stand by and watch the country being captured and dictated to by criminals.

The institution has also pledged support to the Financial Intelligence Center as an institution and Mary Tshuma as its head for the gallant work that centre is doing.