FORMER Attorney General Musa Mwenye says if the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) board continues to hold on to the 2019 Financial Trends Report, they will one day be held accountable for shielding thieves and criminals.

And Mwenye says he doesn’t know what will be left of Zambia’s economy if the FIC becomes moribund.

Mwenye was commenting on a News Diggers investigation which revealed that the 2019 Money Laundering Trends Report might not be released anytime soon this year as the Irene Lombe Chibesakunda-led Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) board has not given a go ahead for its dissemination to the public.

In his statement, Mwenye also said it was sad that FIC acting director general Clement Kapalu had been frustrated to the point of resigning.

“I hope that the stories we are hearing about the happenings at FIC are not true. The reported deliberate suppression of the FIC Trends report is very sad. It is also very sad that the acting director general has abruptly resigned in a manner that suggests that him and other committed and patriotic employees at the FIC are being deliberately frustrated by corrupt individuals. We cannot allow the FIC, which is one of the very few organisations fighting corruption and organised crime in Zambia to die or be rendered moribund like some other organisations. As you are aware, our current economic problems are directly related to the high levels of corruption that started after the death of President Michael Sata, MHSRIP. The FIC is a critical organisation which is helping prevent the further decline of our economy caused by rampant corruption, and if it goes, I don’t know what will be left of this economy,” he said.

Mwenye who is immediate past chief legal advisor to the government noted that since President Lungu assumed office, the country’s reserves had dwindled while economic grown had also reduced.

“In 2014, our economy was growing at 7.1 percent. The current Government headed by H.E President Lungu took office in January 2015 and immediately upon assuming office the economic growth reduced by over half to 3.2% in 2015. The economic growth has never recovered since that time and last year before Covid-19 we were only growing at 1.9%. This year the economy is in negative. It is expected to reduce by between 4 to 5 %. The Late President Michael Sata found about $2.3 Billion in reserves. By the time he died he left over $3billion in reserves which the current Government inherited. In 2018 only about US$1.5 Billion was left, meaning half of the reserves left had disappeared as at 2018! We don’t know how much is there now- we can’t even talk about the price of mealie meal and the exchange rate,” Mwenye said.

He further observed that the Lungu-led PF government was defending the corrupt, hence a sharp decline in economic growth, as the country was losing resources to private pockets.

“How does economic growth reduce so much in such a short space of time. The answer is simple. Late President Sata instilled discipline and under him, people who were corrupt were dealt with, now it’s free for all. The Govt is now preoccupied with defending the corrupt and destroying institutions that are fighting corruption. All of us who condemn corruption are now enemies of the Government while the thieves and the corrupt are the ones our leaders are comfortable with. The corrupt and the thieves are the people our leaders are drinking and eating with,” said Mwenye.

Our reserves as a country are finished because of corruption. Our debt is rising because of corruption and Zambians are dying of hunger because money meant for the poor is being stolen day in and day out. Yet the Govt is frustrating officials at the FIC who are working hard to expose the corrupt. They are fighting the FIC which is trying to protect our money as a country. The FIC should be protected and we demand the release of the FIC trends report which, as we are told by the News Diggers’ report, has implicated a lot of high profile individuals. The FIC Board should do the right thing and resist shielding thieves and criminals otherwise one day, they too will be held to account.