Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) says the conviction of MMD president Nevers Mumba is a clear demonstration of how weak the systems of governance and internal controls are in the country.

Dr Mumba was convicted by the Lusaka Magistrates Court, Monday, on three counts of abuse of authority of office but has been granted an absolute discharge on mitigation

In a statement, TIZ Chapter president Rueben Lifuka said Mumba’s conviction would not necessarily act as a deterrent but instead demonstrates how public officials are abusing the authority entrusted to them by virtue of their offices.

“Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) wishes to express its deep concern about the continued abuse of entrusted authority by public officials. The conviction of Dr Nevers Mumba is a case in point. This should not be looked at as an isolated case, it speaks to the weakness of the systems we have in place as a country to address the issue of corruption, especially in the form of abuse of authority at the highest levels. Even now, we have public officials abusing the authority entrusted to them by virtue of the offices they occupy. We have a very weak sanctioning environment as a country that can deter abuse of authority. This is not the first we have seen someone being convicted for abuse of office and we feel that cases such as Dr Mumba’s may not necessarily act as a deterrent,” he said.

“The delays in the investigations, prosecution and final disposal of such cases do not serve well at all to stop this vice. We have been categorical on such cases and our take is that there should be a systemic process that will help us fight corruption and abuse of office and not going by it selectively. A holistic systemic approach to fighting the abuse of office existing in many public institutions will be more meaningful and will yield better results than individual arrests which in most cases don’t even result in convictions. As TIZ, we do not take pleasure in seeing people going to jail, but on matters involving abuse of one’s office for private gain, we strongly condemn and feel our society needs to have leaders who demonstrate good leadership and plant good seeds of integrity, accountability and transparency and also lead by example.”

Lifuka wondered why Mumba was convicted without a befitting sentence that could not deter would be offenders.

“Therefore, in welcoming the conviction and judgement passed on Dr Mumba, we would like to echo the sentiments passed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) that even when we welcome the court ruling, we are worried by the sentence handed to him which we strongly believe will have little or no impact on would be offenders serving in various capacities including those serving in similar positions that were once held by Dr Mumba. We further urge the media to not always wait for such convictions to write stories on abuse of office, but research and bring out the bigger picture of the plundering of public resources happening in various public institutions. This is not a story in itself; the issue is about the weakness of our systems which allows for such abuse of office. This should be the topic that we should be addressing and which we are challenging the government to address.”