Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) president Eddie Mwitwa says there is need to stop paying lip service to the fight against corruption because Zambians are more interested in action being taken against perpetrators of the vice.
In an interview, Mwitwa said in 2020, government officials must step up the fight against corruption by acting on reports of graft.
“There is so much more in the fight against corruption that I think we can do as a country. Corruption has had the effect of taking away resources that could have been used to better the lives of the masses of the ordinary citizens in our country. And apart from government giving lip service to the fight against corruption, we want to see action this year,” Mwitwa said.
“The instances we had last year of the President indicating that he himself, had seen, for instance when he went to the Copperbelt, he informed the nation that members of his own party were benefiting from that policy of saying 20 per cent of contracts must be given to locals and that there was corruption in that process. We haven’t seen anybody being prosecuted or being punished! We don’t know whether the situation has improved.”
And Mwitwa challenged the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to explain if the man claiming to be the owner of the 48 houses was indeed the real owner and state if he would be prosecuted.
“We are on record as LAZ to have said that we can do a lot in terms of the fight against corruption. The Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) released its annual report last year; a lot of cases were cited in there, a lot of money was indicated as having been lost through corruption. What we had hoped to see was also resultant prosecutions coming out of that particular report. I personally haven’t heard anything. Right now, we are still hearing reports about the owner of the 48 houses not having been found. Somebody is claiming to be the owner of those properties and the Anti-Corruption Commission so far has not clarified whether this gentleman that is coming out in the open now claiming to be the owner is truly the owner. As things stand, and as we know the law when those properties are forfeited to the State, it means that the alleged owner cannot claim them anymore. But the question is that, is anybody going to be prosecuted for those properties?” Mwitwa wondered.
“So, apart from obvious cases of corruption being mentioned, our hope is that we will see people being prosecuted. If they are innocent, the Court will make that pronouncement, but we must move into action other than just making statements that do little to help the fight against corruption.”
Meanwhile, Mwitwa appealed to the police command to apply the Public Order Act in a fair manner without looking at anyone’s political affiliation ahead of next year’s polls.
“2020 is such a crucial year. We have the general elections coming up in 2021 and we expect that there will be a lot of activities on the political front. The issues of the Public Order Act, we know that there will be something that we need to be dealing with and we hope that politicians will realize that we need to grow our democracy. We are appealing to the police command to ensure that they apply the Public Order Act as it is now in a fair manner and in a manner that is in line with the law without looking at the parties that are involved. It’s a notorious fact that the Public Order Act has been abused by those in power! And we hope that this year, as the political activities heighten, the police officers will realize that they must play a role that does not side with any party, but that they enforce the law, strictly,” urged Mwitwa.