African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption (APNAC) Zambia Chapter chairman Cornelius Mweetwa says it is too early for the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to ask for credit because the institution should do more to successfully prosecute serious corruption cases and win the public’s confidence.
Last week, ACC public relations manager Timothy Moono said it was not right to say that the Commission failed to secure more convictions than acquittals, adding that in the last five years, 95 people had been convicted of corruption, who included some high profile individuals.
“Over K78 million worth of assets have also been recovered and forfeited to the State. Suffice to add that the number of those acquitted is far less than the number of convictions as can be evidenced from our statistics. It is, therefore, not true that the Commission fails to secure convictions whether in high or ordinary profile cases,” stated Moono, in response to a press query after Information and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo complained that government was wasting time and money on prosecuting corruption cases when no one had been found guilty.
But in an interview with News Diggers!, Mweetwa said the efficiency of the Commission in terms of securing convictions did not mean that it had satisfied the requirements on its part to do its best.
“Well for me, in terms of justice, there is no case that is high-profile or low-profile. Every case should be treated the same. What matters is the violation of the particular rule, regulation or a law. But for the ACC to be asking for credit, I think it is a bit too early and the timing is wrong. Given that the citizens right now are trying to come to terms with how the ACC has failed to locate the owner of the 48 houses, and at that particular moment then they say ‘no we deserve credit’, it is not for them to see the need for us to give them such credit; it is the beneficiary community who should be able to appreciate the work done. The work they are doing is appreciable. But for them to ask for credit, it is inappropriate,” Mweetwa said.
“The implication is that there is a lot of corruption that has taken place in the last five years. That is why there are more convictions than acquittals. So, that speaks to the efficiency of the ACC. The efficiency of the Commission in terms of securing convictions does not mean that the Commission has satisfied the requirement on its part to do its best. They have access to all manner of information, whatever that they inquire. So, we feel that there is much more room for the ACC to work within their [mandate]. Given those statistics, it is difficult for me to comment from the vacuum.”
Asked if the public was being too critical on the Commission, Mweetwa said the ACC worked under difficult circumstances, adding that there was a lot of political interference.
“The public is not too critical. The role and mandate that is placed on the ACC is too huge. That certain happenings where you raise hopes of people that you are prosecuting a particular case, slapping charges on a particular individual from the initial one, meaning that you had confidence in prosecuting and winning that case at court. And then, to end into an acquittal is raising competence questions on the work of the ACC. Otherwise, the ACC needs to be supported and encouraged. You know, they are working under difficult circumstances; there is a lot of political interference. We are still alive to the fact that currently, many government institutions are faced with the challenge of political interference. And it is our sincere hope that the ACC continues to string on to the thread of integrity in order that the public should continue to have confidence in their works,” said Mweetwa.