TRANSPARENCY International Zambia (TIZ) says the acquisition of questionable monies from unofficial sources may lead to incidences of state capture as well as policy capture.

The Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) has continued to probe Foreign Affairs Minister Joe Malanji after summoning him for questioning to establish the source of funds he used to buy his US$1.4 million helicopter in December 2020.

And a News Diggers investigation revealed that Malanji funds his procurement transactions using a company called Gibson Power Supplies, which he owns and controls, and the Kitwe-based Royal Gibson Hotels, which he used on the helicopter purchase.

The investigation has also revealed that the minister receives millions of kwacha from a named Middle Eastern Country and also from an Embassy of a named Asian country based in Lusaka, among other countries in Africa.

Responding to a press query, TIZ president Sampa Kalungu said personalised deals for public office bearers can lead to influenced decision.

“TIZ wishes to take this opportunity to remind and appeal to the government to push for the enactment of progressive good governance laws. The Lifestyle audits must be introduced within the public service and public servants/officers including parliamentarians so that it becomes standard practice to deposit their asserts and records publicly in order to strengthen oversight of ethics, integrity and discipline among public office holders. Acquisition of questionable monies from unofficial sources and in ‘untransparent’ means may lead to incidences of state capture as well as policy capture. Individual or personalised money deals for the public office bearers can have biased influence on such public office bearers. We need to subject all senior government officials, ministers and MPs to undergo lifestyle audits,” read the response.

“The investigations of any public officer must be welcomed by any citizen, including the public officers or government officials themselves. Investigations provide opportunities for the suspects to explain themselves and the state to prove the wrong committed. Holding public office means you are holding public interests and where there is reasonable doubt or questions about your conduct, lifestyle, the public must be free to ask questions. In the case of Minister Malanji, the people through DEC are asking questions about some personal wealth which they do not understand and the minister is obliged to provide accurate response to such questions.”

Kalungu said if public officials were subjected to lifestyle audits, their income stream would be tracked.

“Through the audits we can track the person’s income stream, criminal record searches, verifying fixed and movable assets, those who unduly benefit from the state’s resources and procurement opportunities. Declaration of assert can enable the law enforcement agencies such as DEC or ACC to conduct asset search in the cases of undeclared assets and assess donations, gifts and potential links to gifts arising from their position. We therefore welcome these investigations of Minister Malanji and pray that many other public office holders in similar unexplained acquisition of wealth be investigated too. We are also alive to the fact that we should not judge the Minister until proven otherwise. TI-Z has been calling for both true assert disclosure and lifestyle audit for the public officer or government officials themselves; a matter which has received very little attention from the corridors of power,” stated Kalungu.

“Public officers or government officers must understand that both asset declaration and lifestyle audit must not be seen in the negative but must be taken as beneficial to them too as it can work to protect them. If we knew the worth of Minister Malanji we would not have been asking the questions we are asking now. As we would have referred to his lifestyle register deposited at the beginning of his political career and updated yearly and from there we could have understood his exact worth.”