THE Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) says it is not afraid of being taken to court if someone feels aggrieved by its work, but insists that investigations will continue.
In an interview, DEC spokesperson Mathias Kamanga said the Commission had been conducting itself professionally and would continue to do so even if the PF had decided to drag the commission to court.
He said as at yesterday, DEC had not yet been served with the PF lawsuit.
“As a Commission, we have been boasting of professionalism in every aspect. So as far as we are concerned, we have been conducting ourselves professionally and that will continue even when there is a suit. It is not a strange thing for us that somebody has taken us to court if at all they have. I am saying so because we have not yet been served with any court documents. But ourselves, we have taken people to court when we conduct investigations and we find that there is an offence that has been committed. So we are not really scared or it is not a surprising thing that somebody else can decide to take us to court. We are a public institution that is accountable to the people of Zambia and that being the case, we are ready to stand in the same court where we take others to go in and defend our actions,” Kamanga said.
“Suffice to say that we have not been served with any court documents as at today. So we have been reading about this in the media. We will wait to get the letters or documents from the courts. I think the one thing that you should stress is that we have not been served with any court documents and so we limit what we have said. Emphasis should be that our work is not at all threatened by the fact that we have received these reports. We are continuing to carry out our mandate professionally and we are continuing to do the things that we are supposed to do. Our mandate is clear according to the law and we will ensure that we do our work professionally and we reach conclusions in the investigations that we are conducting in many of these cases.”
And Kamanga said DEC was not behind the narrative that the commission was investigating the sources of PF campaign funds.
“The political funding investigation announcement was not made by the DEC. It was made by the PF themselves and it did not come from us. If it was coming from us it would have come through my office. We did not announce anything of that nature. So if they have sued us then we will go to court and we are going to answer whatever concerns they have in court. Suffice to say, if they have gone to court then it means that the case is already in court and us commenting on it may actually end us in trouble and maybe in contempt of court if at all those papers are before the courts of law. So we are trying to limit what we say about this issue. Until we get details from the PF. As a Commission, we have never announced any case that is being investigated at the stage of investigation. What has been happening is that when we call someone for questioning, that person goes to the media and the media gets to hear about a particular case that we are investigating and so they write press queries,” Kamanga said.
“As a public institution, one of our values is integrity and it requires that when there is a question we cannot lie to the public and say ‘we are not investigating this person’ and then three days later [we] say yes ‘actually we were investigating and now this person has been arrested’. When there is a query that has been sent to us, we have been able to confirm that a person is under investigation. It has not been that we initiate the communication by calling the media to say we need to tell you about the people we are investigating. We have not been doing that as a Commission. We have just been responding to the queries that have come along.”
Kamanga further said the Commission does not make investigation announcements to excite the public.
“You may wish to notice that yesterday (Wednesday) we gave a statement that we received about 90 cases up to the day before yesterday, from just before elections. Of those 90 cases, some of them touch on people of high profile in nature and some of them are politically exposed persons. Some of them have huge figures that if the public knew about them they would definitely be interested. But as a Commission we have resolved that we will not announce those cases until the investigations have been concluded. It is only a few of them where somebody asks about investigating a former Minister, in that instance we have been able to confirm and not state anything else. It is like the media comes to us and after we have answered the question then that is used against us to say we are publicising cases and exciting the public,” said Kamanga.
“It is not in the interest of the Commission to excite the public for nothing. It is in the interest of the Commission to ensure that our work is conducted privately and we do it professionally without any interference from anyone. So that whatever we do at the end of the day, we must gather enough evidence that stands in court. We are aware that even if there is something loud in public and media it does not mean that that will contribute to what stands in court. The court dynamics are different, it is about the evidence that is proving a case. So that is why we want to work away from the media so that at the time we are giving the announcement, we would have gathered all the evidence and concluded investigations.”