Civil Servants and Allied Workers Union (CSAWUZ) president Davy Chiyobe says government officials who are “clean” should not panic over calls to formalize lifestyle audits.
And Chiyobe, who has welcomed the idea of lifestyle audits for government officials, says if implemented, investigative wings should be upright and ensure that there is no political interference.
Last week, Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo trashed the idea of lifestyle auditing, dismissing it as “rubbish”, insisting that ministers were capable of building houses using their salaries.
But in an interview, Chiyobe wondered why Lusambo was afraid of a lifestyle audit.
He argued that government officials who were “clean” and could account for their properties should not panic over the idea of lifestyle audits.
“Why is he fearing? If he is clean and he is able to give that information to say: ‘this is where I got the money and this is the property I bought at so much,’ let no one fear. If we are clean why should we fear? If people come to my home to investigate me and I’m clean, why should I panic? If we are clean, we should not resist! If you are a minister and you have the money to buy any property, show them your salary, businesses and be able to account for your properties,” Chiyobe said.
He recalled that during Dr Kenneth Kaunda’s administration, there was a law that ensured that public service workers accounted for their properties.
“In the Kaunda regime, there was an Act to say, if you are a public service worker, you need to account for any property you own. You have to explain how you got that property, where you got the money. However, that type of Act died out when the Chiluba government came in. I have worked in Kaunda government, Chiluba government, under the MMD and in the PF government, but I can assure you that during the Kaunda regime, any public officer who owns property suspected to have come out of proceeds of crime, was approached to account for that property to say: ‘how did you get this as a public service worker, this is your salary’,” Chiyobe said.
“Those things were there in the Kaunda regime and there was not much corruption because any public officer was accountable to explain the source of his properties. Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, public service workers could fear to indulge into any corruption. That’s something that [government] needs to get back where you have to account for any property in your custody.”
And Chiyobe welcomed the idea of lifestyle auditing, but added that if implemented, investigative wings should be upright and ensure that there was no political interference.
“Anyone who owns property, investigative wings should be able to investigate ‘where did you get the money’. If that person that does not substantiate where he got that money, the property should be grabbed and he should be charged for corruption. With what’s currently happening where people are able to get rich overnight, really, we need to get back those instruments, which can urge the investigative wings to investigate people. The only challenge is that in those days (Kaunda regime), the investigative wings were upright, but are they upright now?” asked Chiyobe.
“Things have changed now! In those days when people were investigating, there was serious commitment that they were doing it on behalf of the country. (Lifestyle audit) is workable and the idea is very welcome, but investigative wings should be upright and ensure that there is no political interference. If they are left to do their jobs, these wings are very professional.”