GOVERNANCE Activist Rueben Lifuka says there is no need for people who have not done any wrong to start panicking and moving funds to offshore accounts.

Commenting on the Financial Intelligence Centre’s move to freeze Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) liquidator Milingo Lungu’s bank accounts following some suspicious transactions, Lifuka hoped that FIC would sparingly use its powers to freeze accounts and only do so once it had ample evidence to suggest wrong doing.

“The general public should equally rise to the occasion and play its role by providing necessary information to the investigative agencies and by cooperating with them whenever such actions like freezing of accounts are effected. Unpleasant and inconvenient as this may be, it is however important that those under investigation collaborate with the law enforcement agencies and seek to clear their names through the laid down judicial process. For those who have not done any wrong, there is no need to panic and start moving funds to off-shore accounts. It is everyone’s fervent hope that FIC will sparingly use its powers to freeze accounts and only resort to this facility when it has ample evidence to suggest wrong-doing,” Lifuka said.

“But that said, there is nothing extraordinary about the freezing of the accounts of Mr Milingo Lungu if this indeed is the case. And it is expected that FIC is on “terra firma” in arriving at this decision and that the gentleman will be given the opportunity to clear his name.”

And Lifuka said the newly found vigour to investigate cases involving politically exposed persons points to a restrictive and politicized environment in which law enforcement agencies were operating under the PF administration.

“The newly found vigour to pursue and investigate cases involving Politically Exposed Persons, while commendable, also reflects a systemic problem that has blighted the operations of law enforcement agencies in the immediate past regime. It can be argued that the Financial Intelligence Centre, the Drug Enforcement Commission and the Anti-Corruption Commission, have now found the freedom and the latitude to do their work and to effectively enforce the law. This evidently points to a restrictive and politicized environment in which these institutions were operating under the PF administration. It also confirms public concerns raised in the past on how the political leadership had narrowed the space for professionals in law enforcement agencies to effectively discharge their mandate. These are important lessons for the new administration who should tirelessly work to find permanent solutions to the glaring inadequacies in the work of law enforcement agencies,” he said.

Lifuka urged investigative wings not to abuse the newly found freedom.

“It is nonetheless important to underscore that this newly found freedom should not be abused and all law enforcement agencies should commit to undertaking their activities devoid of any political rendering and totally above reproach. All actions against suspected wrong doers should be firmly anchored on the law and duly informed by professionally conducted investigations,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lifuka said the fight against corruption would be lost if there was even an iota of vindictiveness and retribution.

“The fight against corruption and other malfeasance will be lost if there is even an iota of vindictiveness and retribution. As stakeholders, we are all desirous that all cases of wrong-doing and corruption are fully investigated, cogent evidence gathered and prosecuted in the courts law. In recent times, the public lost confidence in the ability and willingness of the FIC, ACC and DEC to identify and bring to book Politically Exposed Persons. There were a number of cases involving Politically Exposed Persons which ended abruptly in courts of law and left a lot of lingering serious questions on whether justice had indeed been served. Therefore, the onus is on both the Hichilema administration and the law enforcement agencies to restore public confidence in the anti-corruption crusade,” said Lifuka.

“The new administration is advised to concurrently articulate a robust strategy to cleanse both the public and private sectors of corruption while strengthening systems and building institutional capacity to prevent any future corruption. We need a holistic approach in order to build a government anchored on values of transparency, honesty and integrity.”