Civil Rights Activist Brebner Changala says corruption will never end in Zambia if the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) does not go for the big fish that are holding power.
On Monday, former Attorney General Musa Mwenye broke his silence on the ongoing debate about escalating corruption levels in the country, saying the graft fight should not only target the weak and vulnerable.
Mwenye who served under president Michael Sata as Solicitor General and later Attorney General, could not resist commenting on the incident where Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo caught traffic officers allegedly taking bribes from motorists.
He said while Lusambo’s efforts were targeted at exposing corruption, it was important to target grand corruption among those who were taking proceeds of crime to invest in companies and assets, rather than only focussing on the weak and vulnerable.
And in an interview, Changala agreed with Mwenye, saying those involved in grand corruption often went scot free because of the power they yielded.
“I conquer with the former Attorney General. He is very right. The fight against corruption is a fight against the weak in society whereas the strong and the people who are involved in grand corruption are left off the hook because they are well connected. And this is because the Anti-Corruption Commission itself is morally corrupt [and] it cannot balance the fight against corruption. It cannot equalize in terms of attacks on the root cause of this corruption. The biggest culprits in this corruption are actually in high offices but because they cannot touch them for the fear of the unknown, they want to celebrate the downfall of the weak who are merely trying to help themselves to the tradition that has been celebrated and anchored in the corridors of power. And this corruption will never end if the Anti-Corruption Commission will not go for the big fish that are holding power,” Changala said.
Changala said instead of being a political party, PF had been turned into a business venture.
“And those who are celebrating the arrest of those [traffic] four police officers are being naive, unfair to this country and indeed accomplices. They must mind that what happened to those four police officers must happen to the big fishes that are stealing big. For example, PF itself is an embodiment of corruption. Look at its lifestyle [or] the lifestyle of the leaders of PF, look at their expenditure, it is out of this world. And yet PF has now become a business venture and when you question them [on] the source of their monies, they will tell you that it’s well wishers. Now where are these well-wishers who can’t buy medicine in hospitals? Where are these well-wishers who can’t support our children at higher learning institutions in terms of bursaries? So I agree with the former attorney general that this drama [which] they are trying to create by embarrassing and humiliating those who are low in society is bound to backfire one day. We need to cite the corruption starting from State House to the last man in the ministry in government,” he said.
He said there was need to probe PF officials for corruption starting from the Secretary General to the media director.
“We need to fight corruption in PF starting from the secretary general to the media director. Where are they getting these funds when the economy has totally collapsed and when we are going through what they are telling us is austerity measures? I don’t know what these austerity measures are. This does not affect PF, it only affects the man and woman in the street because their expenditure is very high and extravagant, but they will tell you to tighten your belt as we face the challenges ahead. There is a lot of hypocrisy and a lot of unbridled anarchy in the corridors of power,” Changala said.
Meanwhile, Changala said there was need to give ACC directors security of tenure so that they could discharge their duties freely.
“And the Anti-Corruption Commission itself is to blame. So for Anti-Corruption Commission and its commission officers to operate, they need security of tenure. They are very vulnerable. And mind you, corrupt people are very powerful in that they are financially strong; they are able to uproot anybody to an extent of killing anybody. Now the director general of Anti-Corruption Commission must have security of power. Once appointed [and] ratified by parliament, there should be a situation where he cannot be removed by the president unless through a tribunal which he has errored or if he has committed a misdemeanour. They must have the security of power, the security which the judge enjoys , the security that the director of public prosecution enjoys. They must extend it to these institutions so that they operate freely and at an extent where they can walk to a minister and say ‘I am arresting you today’ without a phone call coming from State House to say ‘don’t arrest that gangstar, the money he is stealing is ours no,” said Changala.