Former Finance Minister Ng’andu Magande has wondered why Margaret Mwanakatwe has allowed her colleagues from other Ministries to attack the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) when the institution is merely doing its job.

In an interview, Magande recalled how Mwanakatwe, who is current Finance Minister, was excited when Zambia got admitted as a member of the Financial Intelligence international community.

Magande implored Mwanakatwe to stand up for the FIC and its staff, who have come under sustained government attacks following the release of the 2018 Trends Report, warning that FIC workers would soon be discouraged to do their work if the attacks continued unrestrained.

The FIC’s 2018 Trends Report highlighted how Zambia was robbed of K6.1 billion last year through various illicit financial flows, an increase of 33 per cent, from K4.5 billion lost in 2017.

“FIC falls under the Ministry of Finance; it’s to do with money movements and so on. Ms Mwanakatwe was the one who said in Australia when Zambia got admission to the FIC that: ‘finally, we are very happy after so many years of being observed, Zambia has been admitted as a member of FIC. The country has now joined a fraternity of friends who don’t tolerate corruption in the Financial Intelligence.’ Now, she comes here and FIC starts doing the work, then the work they produce starts to put them in problems; [when FIC releases their Report,] they take it to her (Mwanakatwe) and then from there, that’s when perhaps it goes to the President or if they don’t, then the same time they send their report to the President, they also send to her. But she hasn’t commented on the FIC yet because in her view perhaps this is what FIC is supposed to be doing and she is the Minister responsible for the organization,” Magande said.

“Someone should ask her to say: ‘doesn’t she feel frustrated that an organisation, which she was so proud of to create, is being attacked by her colleagues like the Chief Government Spokesperson (Dora Siliya), who is also Minister of Information? She was very happy that Zambia had finally been admitted to the FIC group because she felt it would help the government with all this money laundering and so on, how does she feel now that her own colleagues like the Minister of Information is criticizing the work of an institution, which she was very happy to form?”

And asked if the FIC did anything wrong by publishing the Trends Reports, Magande said the FIC was acting within its mandate and implored citizens to support the institution.

“No, they are not doing anything wrong. I was happy to form all these institutions. Even when I was there as Minister of Finance, we had a Money Laundering Association. So, it came from there and that is how later on the international community said: ‘let’s actually have existing institutions, which can follow-up these matters.’ So, when I was there, the Ministry begun looking at all these issues of money laundering. So, I would obviously want to support it and hopefully the rest of the citizens will support it so that money, which goes into accounts is properly accounted for,” said Magande.

“I think she (Mwanakatwe) should talk to her colleagues that, herself, does she attack any of the other institutions in government? Under collective responsibility, since the membership went through Cabinet and everybody agreed, they should not, therefore, attack her because that demoralises the workers under her Ministry and those are civil servants who are paid to do a job.”