Former Justice minister Wynter Kabimba says the Zambian prosecution system is so weak and that Law Enforcement Agencies have no capacity to fight white-collar crimes leaving criminals go scot-free.
And Kabimba in an interview maintained that some of the court acquittals are not because people are innocent but because the prosecution is poor and weak.
Meanwhile, Kabimba who is also Rainbow party general secretary has joined calls for minister and government officials to undergo a lifestyle audit but said people must first put pressure on the government to restore the ACC Act that would support the move.
“All of us must put pressure on government that the old section 54 which was in the Corrupt Practices Act should be restored. In fact during that time, the president would even fire you without even you going through the court process, if you were an appointee of the president. And I argued earlier that some of the acquittals that we see are not because people are innocent [but] it is because the prosecution is poor and weak. I don’t see that capacity in the DEC, I don’t see that capacity in the ACC, I don’t see that capacity in the ZRA, and I don’t see that capacity in the NPA. We are burying our heads in the sand. White collar crimes across the world are complicated [and] complex. So we are allowing people who are supposed to be in jail [to] walk away scot-free, not because they are innocent but because the prosecution system or mechanism is weak to bring them down. What we are doing now by calling for a lifestyle audit is supposed to be the end of the stick,” Kabimba said.
He said Zambia needed a law to support lifestyle audit.
“The beginning should be to demand for legislation. It is one way of fighting corruption. In 1982/83 when Kaunda and his friends were setting up the Anti-Corruption Commission, they saw this as a problem and they decided to deal with it, and now that it has come back to us, I believe it is high time that we confronted this problem by making sure that there is a law in place, because the calls that the civil society movement is talking about are not based on any kind of legislation. How would you go to confront any minister or any senior government official and say ‘we want to audit your lifestyle? Under what law would you do that? There is no law that backs that action,” Kabimba said.
“I join those calls for a lifestyle audit and it shouldn’t only be ministers but senior civil servants also. And if you looked at the Corrupt Practices Act as it was called, the act which establishes the Anti-Corruption Commission, there was actually section 64 in that piece of legislation which dealt with that matter. In other words, if ACC or indeed any other citizen went to the ACC to say ‘PS X or director X in this ministry or minister Y’ seems to be living above his/her emoluments, then the Anti-Corruption Commission should actually move and investigate so that you can justify the correlation between the lifestyle that you are leading, the number of cars that you own etc vis-a-vis your emoluments. That section was removed by the MMD when they amended the Corrupt Practices Act.”
Kabimba said some civil servants were living above their earnings.
“So these calls actually are in line with the original thinking of the people that enacted the Corrupt Practices Act to deal with issues of corruption in our country because as a civil servant or as a public officer, the life that you lead. The wealth that you purport to own must be commensurate with your earning. But what we see in this country is people living way above their earnings. There are people that are building houses without a mortgage, without any kind of financing from any bank and they build a four to five bed-roomed house. The question is where are you getting the money from to finance that? And you are a public officer, because what we know is that the public service pays the lowest salaries and wages as compared with the private sector,” said Kabimba.
“So at the moment there is no piece of legislation under which the government or indeed any agency would conduct that lifestyle audit. I mean tell me why anybody would approach me and say ‘Mr Kabimba tell us why you are packing 20 vehicles at your house?’ I will ask them to say ‘what is your business? Which law are you using? I am not a suspect and nobody has complained. So under which law have you come to my house? So just get out of here before I get my gun.’ And yet under the old section 54, ACC would actually send you a call-out to say ‘look, we have audited your lifestyle, you earn so much per month, your salary including allowances, we know that you are building a property in Chalala which is worth so much, you built another one in Kabulonga last year which was worth so much, you own so many vehicles, your wife works and this is how much she earns and all these things put together cant much what you own.’ ‘So can you explain to us.’ So not kukamba chabe ‘eeh, baf*kamba baleyiba (people are stealing)’ no. use knowledge to debate.”