BRITISH High Commissioner to Zambia Nicholas Woolley says there is need for investigative wings to act on information they receive by pursuing allegations or reports of misappropriation of funds in order to ensure accountability.

In an interview, Woolley stressed the need for investigative wings like the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) and Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) to be independent and to work without influence from outside.

“It is absolutely vital. First and foremost, these public institutions are there to serve the public. If you are going to serve the public you need to be autonomous, you need to have a clear mandate and you need to do that without favour, without influence from outside. I think the new President has made a very clear commitment to ensuring that Zambia’s public institutions, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Financial Intelligence Centre, the ACC, others, were having that independence to act. That is important,” Woolley said.

“Particularly the President has also made it clear that he doesn’t want to see political retribution from the process. But equally, there is need for accountability and he has also made that a priority for his government. For there to be accountability, you need to have institutions that are able to act on the information that they get in order to ultimately pursue any allegations or reports of illegal or misappropriation of Zambian taxpayers’ funds, which should be spent on the Zambians themselves.”

And Woolley said the United Kingdom was committed to helping the Zambian government on priority areas of development.

“The President spoke about the importance of economic growth and investment driving towards the economy and ensuring that wealth is evenly distributed. As well as the importance of no Zambian going to bed hungry, the importance of every Zambian getting three square meals a day. In order to achieve that there needs to be investment, there needs to be confidence, there is also need for policies that government puts in place. The expectations are indeed very high,” said Woolley.

“Our UK Minister who had the honour of delivering a speech on the inauguration spoke about the UK’s commitment in supporting the Zambia government in helping to achieve that. Whether that is through our development programmes, whether it is through our wider cooperating partnership initiatives in terms of working with the Word Bank, with the IMF, with the multilateral support in areas of priority for the government.