TRANSPARENCY International Zambia (TI-Z) says the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) should take interest in the hefty donations being made by government officials.
On Sunday, Patriotic Front Copperbelt Mobilization Committee chairperson Bowman Lusambo donated K70, 000 and K50,000 cash to Roan and Mpatamato marketeers in Luanshya respectively.
Commenting on the donations in an interview, TIZ executive director Maurice Nyambe called on the government to give the ACC the freedom and space to conduct investigations.
“It is a big concern to us when you look at the period we are in. In some circles, that can actually be political corruption because what is the purpose of giving those donations? Yes, people say ‘it is helping to recover from COVID-19’ but I think it raises a lot of questions. Even the source of the money, yes you can say someone has been in business for a long time but I think if you are going to ask the same questions that are being asked, for example that somebody like Hakainde Hichilema needs to show us his source of his wealth, then the same questions can be asked to senior government officials who are going round dishing out money. I think the ACC should take interest in some of these things,” Nyambe said.
“There is no doubt that ACC has lost trust in the eyes of many in the public. In fact, many think that the ACC has no credibility at all. But our belief is that institutions such as ACC are still a very important part of our governance system and very important in the corruption fight. So ours is really to do everything, to do our best to encourage such organisations. But also to keep calling on government to give such entities the freedom, space and leeway to be independent so that they do their work because that is the only way it is going to help us to move forward as a country.”
He insisted that a lifestyle audit be conducted on senior government officials to ascertain their sources of wealth.
“Beyond that, we have been calling for lifestyle audits on these government officials and for us, this shows the need for the audit to be conducted. Because if somebody is so wealthy that they are able to dish out money like that, then it raises a lot of questions. If you look at the salaries of government officials, they are not so high but to enable somebody to build that kind of wealth in a short period of time is a matter of concern to us. The lifestyle audit will help us put to rest some of these questions that people are starting to ask,” said Nyambe.
Several ministers have in the recent past been donating huge sums of cash to their constituents as gifts.
Last month, Nkana PF member of parliament Alexander Chiteme donated K50,000 cash to freedom fighters in his constituency.
Apart from Chiteme’s K50,000 to the freedom fighters in his constituency, Kwacha PF member of parliament Joseph Malanji donated K140,000 on the same day to St. Peter’s Parish in Ipusukilo Compound in Kitwe for the construction and completion of various infrastructure at the Church.
Malanji, who is also Foreign Affairs Minister, equally handed over a brand new luxury Rosa Bus to traders under the National Traders and Marketeers Association of Zambia (NATMAZ) in the same area.
In June this year, Lusambo also splashed out K400,000 to taxi drivers in Kabushi constituency, among other donations, despite not having any known source of income prior to being elected area member of parliament in 2016.
Some members of the public have, however, repeatedly questioned where government officials had found such huge sums of cash they are giving away.