Transparency International of Zambia (TIZ) executive director Wesley Chibamba has condemned Kasolo’s suggestion that prosecuting corruption is a waste of time and money if no one is found guilty.
And Chibamba says Zambia needs a specialised court that expeditiously enables the swift prosecution of corruption cases because they are time-sensitive as evidence tends to quickly disappear.
Last Thursday, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo said government was frustrated that time and money was being wasted on prosecuting corruption cases when no one had been found guilty.
But reacting to the statement from the government official, Chibamba wondered whether Kasolo understood the ramifications of taking a casual approach towards the fight against corruption.
“We find the remarks by the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Information very unfortunate and contradictory, especially coming from a leader who happens to be serving in that Ministry. He doesn’t seem to see the need for prosecuting the corrupt? We would like to know what he is suggesting. Is he suggesting that we should let the corrupt go scot-free? Corruption should not be punished? He is saying that money could have gone to hospitals and maybe better nutrition for our people. But then corruption itself is the one that steals money from the people and takes it to private individuals. It’s the one that takes away money from the Treasury. Money that should have gone to hospitals as it were. And, for example, the Social Cash Transfer scandal, which was involving corruption; that money was supposed to go the poor so that they can afford food and other basic social services, but due to corruption, they were not able to get that money,” Chibamba said.
“He is saying not a single case has been proven in the recent past. But then, is he saying that could be a problem of the Anti-Corruption Commission or other investigative wings? I don’t think so! People sometimes get acquitted due to technicalities, but not necessarily because they are not guilty of corruption. But also the perception out there, which as we talk to the people is that, they think that probably the Judiciary is complicit in acquitting some of these corrupt people. And he is saying that corruption is everywhere, it’s not unique to Zambia? We wonder does he really know the ramifications of corruption? Corruption results in death in extreme cases! People are hungry because there are no funds in the national coffers to help them out because some private individuals decided to steal that money!”
He said there was need for a specialised court that handled corruption cases expeditiously as corruption cases in Zambia were sensitive and evidence tends to quickly disappear.
“We need to be able to prosecute all corrupt cases. In fact, what we are advocating for is that there should be a specialised court that handles corruption cases very expeditiously. If possible, we need a fast-track court for corruption cases because they are time-sensitive. Evidence gets lost as time goes by. Last year, the country lost K6.1 billion (in financial crimes) and that is almost 10 per cent of this year’s budget, which could have financed a number of sectors. And this is when the Permanent Secretary (Kasolo) is saying it is a waste of time and money to prosecute corruption cases! It makes sad reading that this is happening to the Zambian people,” Chibamba said.
He said it was time to amplify the fight against corruption, adding that there was need to invest more resources towards the fight against graft.
“He can’t be saying corruption is not unique to Zambia. We don’t care if corruption is in any other country! We don’t want it here because of the ramifications that it has on the Zambian people. This is the time we should be amplifying our fight against corruption and not downsizing it by suggesting that we stop spending money on it. We are supposed to be investing more resources towards the fight against corruption, especially now that it seems to be sky-rocketing,” said Chibamba.