Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya says the executive understands that the Financial Intelligence Centre is doing an important job but insists that sharing of raw data with citizens is a recipe for anarchy.
And Siliya says citizens must not glorify poverty by demanding lifestyle audits or those who are enterprising.
Speaking when she featured on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview, Siliya said Attorney General Likando Kalaluka had advised that the FIC was only supposed to sensitize people about its existence instead of sharing “rumors” with the public.
“I think in this country we have politicized everything. It is not possible that in the same government where we have the office of the Attorney General as the chief legal advisor and he has advised very clearly that in Section 5 of the FIC, it only relates to educating the public about the existence of the FIC, [and] not to share intelligence information with the citizens. We understand that what they do is very important but to share raw data with the citizens is a recipe for anarchy. If you suspect that Mr B is driving a stolen vehicle, you are not going to go to the radio and say that you believe it’s a stolen vehicle because you have never seen your neighbor driving that car before [but] you go to the police so that the police can verify because they have that capacity to investigate. The point is that [it] is a recipe for disaster,” Siliya said.
“There is no agitation. Government is just trying to make it very clear that the law must be observed. First of all, in a democracy, the most important institution in the three wings of government is the executive because the executive derive their power from the people. And in that executive, the head is the president, and the president and government have a structure in which they operate. Now, the FIC is one of those structures. And government is very clear that the FIC is a very important part of government and it must operate in a particular way. It is as being provided by the law to investigate, to monitor financial inflows and outflows. They have a mandate to do that and it is very clear and in their preparing of the report, it’s also clear in the law that they need to share that information with another set of professionals [such as] the Anti-Corruption, the police, the Drug Enforcement Commission because it government there must be order and everybody must understand their role.”
Asked if President Edgar Lungu’s call for the FIC law to be revisited was justified, Siliya said there was need to revise the law and make it more clear for the centre.
“When the president said we have to revisit the law, the law is there, but he means that we may have to make it even more clear so that people understand their roles [so] whether it’s ACC, FIC, the police so that we don’t get this kind of confusion. Government is saying that let these professional institutions do their work professionally, share intelligence professionally and when they are ready to prosecute, then we should hear about it. We should not hear rumors. And if the FIC law right now doesn’t seem to be clear to them, it is why the president suggested that maybe we need to make the law much clear to them so that there is no doubt. Government is not agitated but we must have order,” she added.
“I am happy that even Drug Enforcement Commission came out very strongly. FIC have a right to gather that information but not to share with the public. I am aware that some of the information in that report is already in court, some of the information is already under investigations. So the other wing is being professional by saying ‘look, you are going to jeopardize’ and if we are no collaborating in the manner we should be operating, and creating a witch hunt. You are even going to make those who are supposed to give us information either fear or give us wrong information. But you see when we bring in personalities now that they should become bigger than the office…we always hear these reports that the head of that office is autonomous, autonomous from who? Let us take away emotions and let us take away politics.”
And Siliya said people should not glorify poverty.
“Sometimes you hear those who sing the loudest, talking about lifestyle audit [and] when ZRA visits them then they get a shock and say ‘no this is political.’ It is because we want to politicize everything. And this same lifestyle audit, not to say that everybody is averse but in government this is an everyday process. There are institutions to monitor all Zambians in terms of life style. Not even in the civil service, there are people in the private sector who have wealth in this country. So for me let us have confidence in our institutions that monitor life styles in this country. For politicians at least every year we declare [our wealth] but on the other side, let us not hamper entrepreneurship in this country and let us not glorify poverty in this country,” Siliya said.
Meanwhile, Siliya said there was nothing special about former State House Spokesperson Amos Chanda’s resignation.
“There is absolutely no crisis at State House but its nature in the civil service that people get appointed in the civil service and that at some point, various individuals decide when they wish to exit to pursue other interests as we heard from the statement released by Mr Amos Chanda who just did resign. And individuals have various pursuits in their lives and it should be normal for somebody to be appointed to the civil service and then decide that at this particular time, they are going to exit the civil service. I think this is not the first resignation in government and Mr Chanda made it very clear that he has decided to pursue private interest and we can only wish him the best,” said Siliya.