TRANSPARENCY International Zambia (TI-Z) president Sampa Kalungu says President-elect Hakainde Hichilema could be the saviour Zambians have been waiting for because as the wealthiest person in the country, he has no need to dent his hands with dirty and corrupt money.
And Hichilema’s spokesperson Anthony Bwalya says PF and government officials who stole from the nation’s purse will be given an amnesty to repay what they took without being prosecuted.
Speaking when he featured on Hot FM’s Hot Breakfast show, Wednesday, Kalungu said Hichilema could be the saviour the country was waiting for.
“At the moment, the most powerful person in the country is President HH. Why do I say that? He is the wealthiest person in the country. He has been at the helm of the UPND for a long time and he now has the mandate of the people. And we are thinking to him, he has a great opportunity to lead Zambia as Zambians have ever dreamt before. He has no need to dent his hands with dirty money, corrupt money when actually the money he has at the moment, four generations, five generations can live without working. And for us, we are seeing could this be the saviour we have been waiting for in terms of running Zambia clean and we challenge him to that,” Kalungu said.
He said TIZ was satisfied with Hichilema’s stance on fighting corruption.
“Coming to the message that he spoke, I must say and confess that when I heard him speak about corruption, I felt like maybe like a guy proposing to a girl where he is saying the right things you want to hear and indeed he talked a lot about fostering a better democracy, restoring rule of law, order and also respecting human rights, liberties and all those things that we require. And for us, it sounded very well but specifically, he said he is going to fight corruption in any form and in any way and that, for us worked quite well,” he said.
“Talking about him speaking about how he is going to deal with issues of corruption, first of all I need to mention that prior to the elections, we felt that political parties were not talking enough about what they were going to do in terms of corruption when they came into power. We talked to the UPND, PF and the Socialist Party and they committed certain things with us and these are the things you are hearing from President-Elect Hakainde.”
Meanwhile, Kalungu said he hoped ministers and members of parliament would annually declare their wealth.
“One thing which we will be watching and have been pushing the PF government is about self reporting annual declaration of wealth of government officials but also political parties are very clever. When they say ‘government officials’, they will try to clarify if they mean only civil servants. You know currently, the law says government officials excluding ministers and members of parliament. We hope you are also including ministers and MPs where they declare not only at the beginning of the term but every year, they are reporting how their wealth is increasing and allowing the Auditor General to clearly come and check this because I can declare something but then it’s self-declaration and it’s not truthful,” said Kalungu.
And when asked what the recovery operation was and how it would be achieved by the UPND government, Bwalya said it was an amnesty period to bring back what was stolen, no questions asked.
“We want to give individuals an opportunity to make peace with their country, to make peace with the Zambian people. Bring what you took to the Zambian people illegally. After that is done, it is more like what the ZRA did, they knew that people brought cars into the country illegally without paying taxes, so they said ‘we don’t want to waste time pursuing each and everyone of you, we know what you have done, so we are giving you an amnesty period come and pay taxes on the vehicles. But after that period has elapsed, we will come for you,” he said.
“This is in recognition that corruption over the past 10 years has been a US$3 billion problem per annum in this country and we always used to come here and say ‘on an annual basis, we are losing US$3 billion to corruption and a huge amount of that corruption was being perpetrated at political level by politically inclined individuals, those elected to serve in public institutions and those who are affiliated to the party in power. So we were clear that we needed to establish the right tone at the top but also part of that we were saying if we want to rapidly begin to engage this problem in a manner that was never going to be costly to the public, you have to understand that the court process route has been tried before in this country and it is hugely costly, you are dealing with crime that has become increasingly complex.”
Bwalya said after the amnesty period, law enforcement agencies would move in.
“And then obviously, after that amnesty period, then we will be saying ‘look, we have tried the best that we can or could have done to recover everything that was taken from the public purse, here is where this operation ends. From here going forward, public institutions operating independently of and where they feel and absolutely believe that there is cause for action to be pursued in the way of additional investigations, court action and other recovery mechanisms to be instituted, then that will be entirely for those institutions functioning independently to take on,” said Bwalya.
“Dealing with financial crimes is a complex issue these days, it takes a huge amount of resources both personnel and financial. We want to try something that has been tried in other countries. You can institute an amnesty where you say we recognize that corruption has been rampant over this period, all of those who may have taken a penny, ngwee or a kwacha out of the public cookie jar, you are going to be given say three months, bring what you took from the Zambian people. And then obviously the framework within which such an operation will be executed obviously will be provided to optimise results.”