Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) President Reuben Lifuka says the arrest of former minister of Community Development and Social Services Emerine Kabanshi is long overdue.
A day before Kabanshi was arrested, Lifuka wrote a detailed analysis, published by News Diggers! on loss of donor confidence in Zambia as a result of unresolved theft scandals involving the Social Cash Transfer.
Commenting on the arrest of the former minister, Lifuka said more people must be arrested, arguing that if the social cash transfer saga involved ZAMPOST, then the managers who were in charge at the time must also be made to account.
“The arrest is long over, the fact that investigations have been going on is a good thing. However, we want to believe that there are others who were involved; if honourable Kabanshi has been arrested because of what was happening at ZAMPOST, surely there are managers who were at ZAMPOST who equally should be arrested and prosecuted. So it is our hope that this investigation will not be narrow in focus, but that it will be broad and bring to book everyone that was involved in this saga,” Lifuka said in an interview.
“Government had promised that they were going to deal with this issue expeditiously and we are concerned that it has taken this long. It is our hope therefore that we will not see a prolonged process to bring this matter to conclusion. It is also our expectation that we will see serious government efforts at remodelling the Social Cash Transfer to ensure that it is transparent and it works for the benefit of the people in need and not this case where monies meant for the vulnerable are utilised for other things including the buying of motor vehicles and other things. Can we have a model where financing of this nature is ring fenced for the better of the poor people.”
The TIZ country boss added that the charges slapped on Kabanshi were less considering the gravity of the scandal.
“The charges seem to be quiet narrow in our view, the saga itself was devastating and we are concerned that the charges that have been preferred against honourable Kabanshi do not give the semblance of the seriousness of the matter at hand. So confidence can only be gained if we see a thorough investigation. We are also concerned that the Auditor General seems to have narrowed their forensic audit. Our view is that if the forensic audit was broad, more people would have been arrested and more people should be arrested given the nature of the problem that we had,” Lifuka said.
Meanwhile, Lifuka said government should pay social cash transfer beneficiaries whose money was misapplied following the scandal.
“But we also want to say that we expect from government multiple responses to the issue at hand; it is not just the criminal elements if there are any that need to be investigated and be dealt with, it is also the suffering of people who should have received the social cash transfer payments that needs to be addressed. What is government doing about that? their fate is not going to be at a standstill investigations and prosecution are concluded. We would like to appeal to government to put in place urgent temporal measures to alleviate the poverty or the suffering of the people who should have received the social cash transfer through ZAMPOST. We are not seeing action at the moment, we seem to have hinged all our effort on just investigating one or two people, but what are you doing in the mean time to alleviate the suffering of the people?” asked Lifuka.