OUR Civic Duty Association (OCIDA) spokesperson Bob Sichinga says the Anti-Corruption Commission should be disbanded if it has failed to serve its purpose of fighting graft.
And Sichinga says Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya’s acquittal has dented the commission’s image.
Speaking on Diamond TV’s Diamond Live programme, Tuesday, Sichinga said ACC had lost its credibility.
“As far as the Magistrate is concerned, if you look at the manner the case was handled, the person who was prosecuting came out and said as far as he was concerned, Dr Chiltalu had more income, more value in his assets than more that what was being proclaimed. Clearly, the case fell right there. Then the question is, ‘why are you bringing him here?’ If you think he earns more than what you are claiming he got [dubiously], then why did ACC in the first place even take up this matter to bring it to court? So, the Magistrate or the Judge cannot rule or make a case against an individual if the prosecutors don’t make that case. So, basically, he did not have a choice, he said ‘I am acquitting you’. The role of the Anti Corruption is to ensue that before the start a case and take it to court, they [should] have evidence. So what it has done, it has undermined even the credibility of the Anti-Corruption Commission in the eyes of the public,” Sichinga said.
“In this particular case, the failing is quite clearly that of the Anti Corruption Commission because they are the ones that took the case to court. If they can’t prosecute, they can’t provide evidence, if one of their officers in this case is compromised, then the case is lost straight away. I think they have to redress the situation, they have to prove once more that they are a competent body and that they are worth supporting. Otherwise we should disband it because it is not serving any particular purpose, it is just an unnecessary cost to the state. I think the ACC has a big responsibility to clean up their act, to get their reputation back and the confidence of the public.”
And Sichinga said Dr Chilufya’s acquittal was not a surprise.
“Following what has been taking place, not only in this particular case that you have made reference to of Dr Chitalu, I think we should look at the sequence that has been taking place with similar cases. It is clear that statements that were made by the President before this matter went to court, the President also made statements to the effect that ACC were after him. It is unheard of that a Head of State who is in charge of a whole system can make such a statement in that environment. It is quite clear that what you have got here is a systemic manner in which these cases are handled and you should not be surprised when nolles are entered in the courts of law,” Sichinga said.
“What is clear is that with the statement that the President made, it is clear to everybody that they (ACC) are undermined! These institutions are part and parcel of the government’s administration. It is not about the party that is ruling at that particular point in time. So they need to be protected, they need to be supported. What tends to happen is that not only are tHey not being supported or statements that are coming from the Head of State tend to threaten them, it plants fear in them and they tend to compromise. There is also an issue of them exchanging favours with the person they are supposed to persecute. So in other words, what has happened is that ACC should clean its house.”
Meanwhile, Sichinga said the weak fight against corruption was worsening Zambia’s image.
“There is so little confidence in this country by the cooperating partners, the lending institutions whether you are talking about, the World Bank, you are talking about the IMF or indeed for that matter the general support system that a country can turn to, in view of what has taken place, do you think that another country that is offering resources…let us take this, for example, you take the World Bank, do you think they will have the confidence to lend to this institution? And to say that there is sufficient capacity within their own country to be able to protect whatever they will get and it will be applied for the right purposes? The answer is no! The impact on the economy obviously is quite negative,” said Sichinga.
“If I was sitting in the EIB, European Investment Bank and there was a case like this and Zambia was coming forward to say we want to borrow money, you think I will lend? I wouldn’t because I know that even before we lend that money, we already know how it will be misapplied, how it will be misappropriated, how it will be stolen, how it will be misdirected. The economy will be deprived of support especially where we have deficits in our budgets.”