TRANSPARENCY International Zambia chapter president Sampa Kalungu has insisted that President Hakainde Hichilema should adopt a system which will demand that any senior government official under investigation is recused from official duty.

And Kalungu says his organisation backs calls from the African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption that the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee chairperson Warren Mwambazi must step aside following revelations that his company is linked to the supply of questionable Covid-19 items to DMMU.

In an interview, Friday, Kalungu said the adoption of a system to recuse government officials under investigation would ensure good investigation and conclusive determination of any particular case.

“We have been calling upon the President, President Hakainde Hichilema to adopt a system where government officials, a senior official of any of our institutions; Judiciary, Executive and Legislature and any other who is linked to public service, if they are found and there is prima facie evidence that they are linked to issues of corruption or bad governance, abuse of authority, misuse of resources and so on, the good practice is that such people are recused from performing their normal duties to allow for good investigation and conclusive determination of a particular case under investigation. That has been our calling, it is our calling,” Kalungu said.

And Kalungu backed APNAC’s calls for Mwambazi to step aside.

“In the event that the chair of PAC is linked to the procurement of DMMU products and these products are seen to have corruptly been procured , that is a public office and also it is good practice, it is very ethical that the chair, if there is good evidence showing that there is likelihood that his company was involved, it is better to step aside. And sometimes stepping aside even before the authorities push you into stepping aside by yourself still retains you some dignity. And PAC is part of an institution which we see trying to bring about transparency in the public service. It is common sense, very ethical and it should be procedural that such a person steps aside to allow for free investigations, thorough investigations and once it is determined ,if he is free then he can be reinstated,” he said.

“In that sense, Transparency International Zambia would therefore ask the PAC chairperson and support the APNAC’s demand that he steps aside to keep the integrity of the institution. When such things happen, it also brings about the need for us to create a much more sustainable system, a much more reliable system. Look at our friend Dr [Lazarus] Chakwera in Malawi, he has made it procedural, any minister who is being investigated has to step aside. He doesn’t need his efforts to defend them. The ministers themselves know that once the Anti-Corruption Commission takes the warn and caution, they need to start writing a letter themselves before even the President tells them. It relieves pressure from the President. So in this regard, we are calling upon President Hakainde Hichilema to adopt a similar stance like he had promised when he was campaigning, and actually, that is also contained in their own manifesto.”

He urged the President to put into practice his campaign promise regarding the fight against corruption.

“So let him put into practice because it will put pressure away from him to defend any minister. Then they won’t be saying ‘this favourite minister of yours you defended him, this one you didn’t defend him’. Remember in the PF government, there were others that president Edgar Lungu defended like Chitotela and Chilufya Chitalu. But others like the lady was told to resign, Kambwili was told to resign. So to stop that difference and where the President is the one who is now determining who has to resign or not, we just put a system and anyone who falls in that system, then the system applies on him or her,” said Kalungu.