Rainbow Party general secretary Wynter Kabimba says he will proceed to commence judicial review proceedings in the Lusaka High Court to have the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) reopen the case involving the 48 ‘mysterious’ houses recently forfeited to the State, so that the owners can be known.

And Kabimba says the way the ACC has handled the controversial case does not show capacity on the part of the Commission to investigate, and further shows that it is not serious in the fight against corruption.

In a letter dated August 1, 2019, addressed to ACC acting Director General Rosemary Nkonde Nkuzwayo, Kabimba gave the Commission a seven-day ultimatum in which to reopen the case and find the owner of the 48 houses, failure to which he would commence judicial review proceedings in the High Court for a Writ of Mandamus to order the Commission to do so.

When asked whether or not the ACC had responded to his demand, Kabimba said the Commission had not gotten back to him, hence his decision to proceed with judicial review proceedings.

“No, I haven’t received any response from ACC. So, we intend to commence the judicial review proceedings soon. This is not a matter that we shall leave without prosecuting; I think we shall go ahead with the judicial review application,” Kabimba explained.

he said he did not understand the contradiction from the ACC board chairperson judge Anderson Zikonda, who said the Commission was still investigating the case involving the 48 houses despite the matter being closed.

“If that’s what they said, then they must be saying that: ‘we have reopened the case’ and there is nothing that prevents them from reopening the investigations. But saying that they are investigating the case, while it’s still closed, that’s a contradiction and I don’t understand that. What they should say is that: ‘we have reopened the case and investigations are ongoing’, and that’s the response they should give to us as well in responding to our letter,” he responded.

And Kabimba, a former Justice Minister in president Michael Sata’s government, said the way the ACC had handled the 48 houses case was regrettable and made people lose confidence in the ACC’s capacity to fight corruption.

“The way the ACC has handled this matter does not show capacity on its part to investigate these matters, and two; it doesn’t show seriousness in the fight against corruption. What it has actually done, this outrage that we have seen from the public in the last three weeks is an indictment on the Anti-Corruption Commission as an agency that is vested with so much wide powers to investigate and prosecute corruption. And there is no doubt that the image of the ACC in the eyes of the public has been eroded, and there is no doubt that ACC has lost the confidence of the people, the confidence of the public in fighting corruption. Unless they can take fresh steps to reclaim that confidence and that image, no Zambian will think that they can rely on the Anti-Corruption Commission to fight corruption in the country,” said Kabimba.

“Like we said even in our letter to the ACC acting director general, that decision sets a bad precedence. What it means is that, if I am a civil servant and they find me with 20 vehicles at my house, all that I need to say is that: ‘I don’t know how these vehicles came in my house and I don’t know who the owner is’ and then they say: ‘okay, in that case, we shall cease the vehicles and forfeit them to the State!’ Then I tell them: ‘okay, you take them.’ But what about the offence itself? There is an act of corruption. So, it can’t be ignored by simply my denial of how that property came in my yard. That’s what it means, and that’s what ACC is saying to us by this decision. So, they have to correct it, it’s a very bad precedence in the fight against corruption! Those who are caught must be prosecuted, but those who are not caught because they can deny the fact that the property is theirs, the only consequence they suffer is to lose the properly by having it forfeited to the State. But that is not how you can fight corruption.”