FORMER Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) president Eddie Mwitwa says investigative wings should extract as much information as possible from suspects in instances where they grant amnesty from prosecution to enable them investigate or prosecute other people connected to the matter.
In an interview, Mwitwa agreed with sentiments that section 80 of the Anti-Corruption Act saved on the cost of investigations and prosecution.
“Well, at present, section 80 of the Act is part of our laws and was enacted by Parliament then to allow the State to grant amnesty to accused persons in certain instances, on condition that they admit wrongdoing and return what they wrongfully acquired through corrupt practices. The advantage of using Section 80 in cases of asset recovery is that it saves on time by eliminating the prosecution process which can be uncertain and lengthy leading to assets losing value or getting damaged. I also agree with sentiments to the effect that section 80 also saves on the cost of investigation and prosecution,” Mwitwa said.
“Now, I think that it is incumbent on investigative wings and prosecutors to ensure that in instances where they grant an accused person the section 80 amnesty, they extract as much information as possible to enable them to investigate and possibly prosecute other people connected with the corrupt practices where the amnesty was granted.”
Mwitwa argued that prosecutions did not always lead to convictions.
“The arguments to the effect that section 80 and the amnesty granted thereunder negates the fight against corruption have some validity but it is debatable as to whether such arguments are absolutely right. Prosecutions do not always lead to convictions and in high profile cases we do not seem to have done very well as a country in securing convictions. Since we are in a democracy, discussions and debate on whether section 80 of the Act should still grace our Statute Book should be encouraged and hopefully those that argue for its retention or repeal can back their arguments with some tangible evidence,” said Mwitwa.
The State recently disclosed that it had entered into an undertaking not to institute criminal proceedings against former ZNBC broadcaster Faith Musonda after she admitted wrongdoing and surrendered the K65 million, US$57,900 and a house in New Kasama, which properties were acquired through corrupt practices.
According to a statement issued by Anti-Corruption Commission public relations officer Jonathan Siame, Section 80 of the Anti-Corruption Act No. 3 of 2012 allows the State to grant amnesty to accused persons in certain instances on condition that they admit wrongdoing and return what they wrongfully acquired through corrupt practices.