YALI president Andrew Ntewewe says Financial Intelligence Centre Director General Mary Tshuma and the board must go because they are putting the security of the country at risk by releasing intelligence information to the public.
And Ntewewe says there is no legal provision which stipulates that the FIC must present its report to the President before publishing it.
Speaking when he featured on Diamond Television’s Costa show, Sunday, Ntewewe said Tshuma destroyed her own visage and protection by her constant engagements with the media and members of the public, something which is unusual for a head of an intelligence wing.
“I am calling on the public protector to expediently deal with the complaint that we have given them. The reason this has to be done is that there needs to be sanity over matters of intelligence information. These matters border on how the economy is run, these matters also border on how intelligence information is handled. If for instance we don’t handle our information very carefully, what about the security of the country? Are we really going to be safe? You asked me earlier on if Mary Tshuma and her board must go? My point of view is very simple, if they are not supposed to engage the public, they are not supposed to come on media platforms…you have a situation now where even members of the civil society want to call the director general of an intelligence wing of government to come to a public discussion forum. That should be a very serious problem. The other thing which is also very critical that we must be able to look at is that the visage, the protection of Mary Tshuma has been removed by herself. Her picture is everywhere in the media, is that what we expect of a director of a key wing of government?” Ntewewe asked.
He insisted that FIC breached the law by publishing he trends report.
“The FIC [report] is not a public document, let’s understand this. This is an intelligence institution and if you understand it, basically when you talk about an intelligence institution, it gathers information which is covert. Why is it covert? It is covert in the sense that one; for instance you have a bank account, another person here has a bank account. This bank account can only be seen by yourself, no one else is allowed to do that. But you have an intelligence wing here which has been authorised to say you can actually see this information. But the moment you are seeing this information, it is not supposed to be made public, it’s just for you to analyse it. And for instance if you look at even say Andrew Ntewewe’s behaviour is funny, what you do is that you raise a red flag. And once you raise a red flag what do you do? You send it to the law enforcement agencies,” Ntewewe explained.
“Our argument is that the FIC has simply said ‘we have raised a red flag here but at the same time gone to the public. The danger with that is that if for instance I am doing something that is against the law, we have been alerted. So you have jeopadised the investigations. Secondly, what you have done by that is that you are simply rendering the institution useless. This institution is supposed to collect intelligence information. The role of the Financial Intelligence Centre is to give their report to intelligence wings, that is where their mandate ends . What the investigative wings do with that information is not up to the FIC to then give this information out to the public. We must be serious in terms of how we fight corruption.”
Ntewewe wondered where civil society organizations which were threatening to release names of those featured in the 2017 trends report had gotten such information from.
“First of all, aren’t you surprised that we have civil society leaders today who do not mind to be quoted saying ‘Edgar Lungu must go?’ What sort of a civil society organisation is that? Have we at one particular time said ‘Zambians should not vote for this particular candidate’? Have we at one particular come and said, ‘as YALI we are endorsing President Edgar Lungu’? No we haven’t. Your question on Mary Tshuma, our position is very simple, the work that FIC does is very important. The FIC was created [by an Act of Parliament] and must continue to be there. It must be led by men and women of high levels of integrity. It must not be compromised in any way. You have heard when some of these civil society organisations are holding a press briefing and they are telling you ‘we actually have the names of the people who are mentioned in the FIC report. But where have they gotten that information from? There is cause for us to be worried that our intelligence information can be found in the hands of individuals,” Ntewewe said.
And asked if it was expected of the FIC to take its report to the President before publishing it, Ntewewe said the law did not provide for anything like that.
“Let us not be hypocritical, the President is not the police, the President is not the prosecutor, he’s not a judge. So how can you take the report to the President? For him to do what? If you are talking about evidence of corruption, do we want the President to arrest people? Is that what we are looking forward to? What kind of a country are we going to have? This is not a Banana Republic, this is a country of laws and those laws must be respected. So insofar as we concerned, the President is a custodian of our laws, all he must do is something that is written down in our Constitution,” said Ntewewe.