THE Anti- Corruption Commission (ACC) says it has noted that public confidence in the Commission is at its lowest but they are working hard to rebuild their image.
And Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee chairman Howard Kunda has lamented that some issues in the Auditor General’s Report are never dealt with.
Meanwhile, Centre for Trade Policy and Development (CTPD) executive director Isaac Mwaipopo says law enforcement agencies should not always be seen to be instructed before following up cases.
The trio was speaking when they appeared on Diamond TV’s Diamond Live programme on the Auditor General’s Report, Thursday evening.
When asked if the Commission was reluctant to deal with issues found in the AG Report, Moono said the commission always followed up criminal cases which were within their mandate.
“I think we also need to understand the Auditor General’s report in terms of the nature of the report. When you look at the AG report, the issues that are raised there can be categorized in two aspects. You have the administrative and criminal aspect. So the law enforcement agencies come under the criminal interventions and there are also administrative interventions which are expected to be done by controlling officers. With the law enforcement agencies, the ACC, anything that falls within our mandate, we will have ticked over the years and have gone forward to investigate those cases. So we are alive and active to the issues that concern us, and we have taken them beyond just investigation to the prosecution stage,” Moono said.
“Public expectation on these law enforcement agencies including the ACC particularly is very high and you expect ACC to deliver. I don’t want to sound defensive but I want to create an understanding that when you look at the AG report and from my preamble, the expectation is that everything that is there should be dealt with by the ACC. So if you go through the summaries, when you look at the unvouchered expenditures, you look at misapplication of resources, you look at maybe even unsupplied goods, so all those when you interrogate them further, you will realize that as ACC, you have to look critically on every issue that has been raised where corruption is and where we find that this has nothing to do with the commission, we leave it to the other relevant authorities. Maybe it requires relevant administrative interventions, maybe it requires another law enforcement agency, the DEC, the Zambia police to deal with it otherwise we will end up duplicating efforts.”
Moono, however, noted that the public’s confidence in the Commission was at its lowest.
“But indeed, expectation is very high on the ACC and we still need to up our game, public confidence is at its lowest, we have taken that into consideration. We know it and we are working towards rebuilding that image. We need to do a lot but I think we will get there,” he said.
When asked if the Commission waited for instructions to pursue cases, Moono replied in the negative.
“The answer is no. The Commission decides and makes up its mind on all cases that it decides to investigate. There are no instructions that come anywhere. But again the commission will not go to the public and tell the public that today we have received a report against Honorable Kunda and the allegations is this and now we are investigating. Unfortunately, because we don’t do that, the public think we are not doing anything. But when honorable Kunda, because he is a public figure, when something resurfaces, every one will be on honourable Kunda’s neck because he is a public figure and everyone wants to know what the Commission is doing and yet there are so many other issues that the commission is doing but maybe because we are doing it quietly,” he said.
“The expectation that the commission will announce on every case that we investigate to the public, we will not do that because we still want to ensure that at the time we are taking the issue to court, when we are making an arrest and going to court, we have the solid evidence that when we take the case to court, we are going to prove beyond reasonable doubt.”
Moono said the ACC officer who testified in Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya’s case did not represent the position of the Commission.
“That particular case was a very unfortunate case because what transpired is not the commission’s position and yet that case collapsed. But however, whether it is a political figure or an ordinary figure, the commission will pursue but because as you have rightly put it that public figures are expected to be accountable and live beyond board because they are sponsored and acting on behalf of members of the public, the interest on public figures is very high and so we will find that whenever there are issues relating to politicians, to chief executive officers and any other person in leadership, the interest will be very high,” Moono said.
He said the average number of cases which the Commission received was 200,000 annually but out of these, only about 20 convictions were secured.
“But the commission deals with so many other cases. For instance, every year the average number that the commission receives and deals with is about 200,000 but the nature of corruption cases is such that when we get to the convictions, to the arrests, the number of cases reduce drastically on average we have 20 cases that we record on convictions. So what happens in between? It is because the burden of proof for a corruption case is very high,” said Moono.
“The capacity of the commission, yes in terms of numbers we need more numbers. In terms of skill development, we need more skills. Look at the AG report, things have changed from misappropriation now it’s going to undelivered stores, materials. So the crime changes regularly and you need to continuously train your staff to catch up with what is happening and the trend.”
And Kunda lamented that lot of issues in the AG report were never dealt with.
“Unfortunately, we have a lot of issues that have not been attended to and we still keep them and we question why they have not been dealt with them and we call the relevant authorities to come and also be answerable so we have procedures that we have created through standing orders where we have power now to even call the controlling officers in those ministries where we see that they are not dealing with these matters to come and be answerable. And then we wait for law enforcers, ACC, police DEC to deal with these matters,” said Kunda.
Meanwhile, Mwaipopo said institutions like the ACC only swung into action if there were political cases.
“The law enforcement agencies should not always be seen to be instructed to follow after cases. If you follow the trend in our country, you will see institutions like ACC swinging into action more especially if you have political cases. But cases that are involving financial crimes, cases that are really affecting the ability for resources to reach the intended beneficiaries, you don’t see a lot of commitment. It will be good to hear from the representative from the ACC on some of the challenges that they are facing could it be that they are under-resourced or lack of manpower or could it be lack of political will,” said Mwaipopo.