United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema says President Edgar Lungu cannot act against those involved in corruption despite knowing each one of them by name because he is also an accomplice.
And Hichilema says he is not surprised about President Lungu’s desire to stop the FIC from publishing its reports because he is not a serious Head of State.
Upon arrival from the Copperbelt, Wednesday, President Lungu said there was need to change the law which governs the operations of the FIC to stop the institution from publishing its gossip reports.
“As for me, I have got that report I’ve had it for a while. Before I went to the Copperbelt I took time to study the Principle Law- the Financial Intelligence Act, I looked at the Regulations. I think we have to sit down and agree and think through this thing. I know that what is happening over there is gossip, it is not helping us, it is not helping the Republic, and it is not helping all those well-meaning people who are stake holders. I can’t go public and say Politically Exposed Person did this and then I leave it to people to construct it –no. What I know is, is that; that law is very clear; it says that unit (FIC) will render their report to the Minister; the Minister will table it before parliament ; but Meanwhile as they go, they discover friends, they’ll say… there’s a fire there, the police will move in… there’s a fire there, the DEC will move… Anti Money Laundering unit, ZRA …That’s how come we have recovered some things for ZRA to follow through. But what we are seeing is fuelling gossip. I am telling you what the law says and what I know,” said President Lungu.
“What is happening is if I see a thief stealing, I go to the police and I say that man is stealing I suspect so, the police are supposed to move in and arrest him. If I see somebody doing corruption I will go to ACC, but I cannot go public and say it before I even tell the police; or I tell the police and the police don’t act; if the police don’t act or ACC don’t act I am supposed to query and say why are you not acting when I have already told you?
So the law has to be revisited so that the FIC- if they see anything wrong, they tell the police, and if the police don’t act or the ACC don’t act, they follow it up and say ba police ta bauza (we’ve informed the police) about something wrong we’ve seen but they are not doing anything. We are being played it’s a mind game…and for me tell me which Minister? And if FIC tells you that things are wrong, they should be questioning their brother or sister agencies to say “we told you that things are going wrong here, but why haven’t you acted”? That law needs to be revisited it is just creating poison among us. So do you know anyone in that report who stole money or stole six Billion or whatever?”
But in a statement, Thursday, Hichilema said a president who was serious about fighting corruption would have commended and encouraged the FIC to keep on carrying out its oversight role.
“From the response that Mr Edgar Lungu gave yesterday, typical of his usual airport press briefings, regarding the recently released Financial Intelligence Central (FIC) report it once again confirms his lack of seriousness in dealing with corruption allegations. We have stated before on the need for citizens to unite and rescue ourselves from this PF bunch of thieves running the affairs of this great nation. Did anyone surely expect any better or miraculous response from Mr Lungu who has failed to dismiss his Minister of Infrastructure Development Ronald Chitotela currently facing nine counts of corruption allegations in court? And how can such a casual approach trigger a serious reaction from his subordinates such as ministers, PSs, Directors, various investigative agencies, etc that Mr. Lungu is supervising? It is typical of him to treat such reports detailing financial embezzlement as mere mfwiti mfwiti (Witches or wizards) and hogwash, because he is at the epicenter of the game,” Hichilema said.
And Hichilema said a serious President would have asked law enforcement agencies to expedite investigations into financial crimes highlighted in the FIC report.
“If we were in his position, we would have immediately called on the Anti Corruption Commission, Drug Enforcement Commission and the Police to independently study the report and expedite investigations and bring all the named suspects to book. A president who is serious would have commended FIC for the job they are doing and encourage them to continue their role as an oversight institution that ensures checks and balances are enhanced for effective and corruption free government. The Financial Intelligence Centre is a Constitutionally recognised organization mandated to investigate and issue reports on suspicious financial activities, but typical of Mr Lungu and his disregard for the rule of law, he decides to use derogatory terms against them,” stated Hichilema.
“If Mr Lungu was in doubt about the actual individuals and entities cited in the FIC reports, surely he would have asked them to give him or indeed the Zambia State Security Intelligence Services popularly known as the Office of the President (OP) to furnish him with concrete data. Anyway, we know Mr Lungu in his privileged position knows who is involved but is afraid because he is an accomplice. It will once again take the people power to come together and rescue ourselves from these criminals.”