TRANSPARENCY International Zambia (TIZ) says the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has lost the public’s confidence because of failure to prosecute high-profile cases to their logical conclusion.
ACC public relations manager Timothy Moono last week admitted that public confidence in the Commission was at its lowest, but that they were working hard to rebuild their image.
“…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,” said Moono when he appeared on Diamond TV’s Diamond Live programme on the Auditor General’s Report, Thursday evening.
In an interview, TIZ executive director Maurice Nyambe, however, advised the ACC to ensure that they gathered sufficient evidence before they take any matter to court to secure a conviction.
“There is no doubt that the ACC has lost public confidence and I think the main reason for that is because of the failure of the Commission to prosecute high profile cases to their logical conclusion. What we have seen in the past, for example, the case of Dr Chitalu Chilufya (Health Minister) where we had an officer from the ACC exonerating the accused on the stand in court and yet they are the ones that took the matter to court. I think it is cases, such as those, have led to an erosion of confidence and trust in the ACC in the eyes of the public. It is good that they have actually recognised the gap and we commend them for that. Acknowledging a problem is already half way towards resolving that problem,” Nyambe said.
“What we would hope, as TIZ, is that this will not end at just admitting the problem, but it will go beyond for them to begin to put real measures in place that are going to ensure that they begin to win public confidence. For example, them being thoroughly prepared for cases that they take to court. The ACC needs to ensure that before they take any matter to court, they have done their due diligence, they have gathered the sufficient evidence to be able to prosecute that particular matter to its fullest conclusion. The danger that they have and what has led to an erosion of the public confidence is that it seems that sometimes they tend to be ill-prepared to prosecute cases, particularly high profile cases, which attract a lot of public interest. They need to enhance their research capability. They need to be able to enhance their evidence gathering ability so that whatever case that they take to court is actually one that they are sure they will be able to prosecute to its logical conclusion.”
Nyambe observed that having a weak institution like the ACC would increase the impunity of corrupt individuals.
“Bear in mind that the ACC is a very important entity within the governance architecture of our country. It plays a big role in the fight against corruption or can potentially play a role in the fight against corruption. As TIZ, we do collaborate with the ACC in different respects and so it is in the interest in the fight against corruption in Zambia to have a strong ACC. A weak ACC will spell doom for Zambia, it will open the flood gates for the corrupt to begin to increase their impunity, to become worse at looting and plundering this country’s resources. The hope and plea from us is that Zambian citizens will support the ACC in its efforts to try and redeem itself so that it can win back the confidence of the Zambia people in order for it to play the constitutionally-mandated role that it has,” said Nyambe.