ACTIONAID Zambia has condemned the Anti-Corruption Commission’s approach of signing settlement and immunity agreements which do not work in the interest of Zambians.

Responding to a press query, ActionAid country director Nalucha Ziba said the organisation was concerned with the agreement brokered between ACC and former tourism minister Ronald Chitotela.

She wondered how many more deals were brokered in a similar manner, as well as how many corrupt individuals had continued to go freely after misusing public funds.

“ActionAid Zambia notes with concern the agreement brokered between the Anti-Corruption Commission and Pambashe Member of Parliament, Mr Ronald Chitotela. As an organisation, we are concerned with the commitment of the ACC in the fight against corruption. Agreements made like that of with Mr Chitotela, raise doubts in the commission’s capacity to carry out their mandate. One might wonder how many more deals were conducted and brokered in such a manner and how many more corrupt individuals have continued to go freely in society after misusing public funds. We condemn the approach of the ACC and other anti-corruption agencies in signing settlement and immunity agreements that do not work in the interest of the Zambian people,” Ziba said.

“These acts erode the already low public confidence and trust in the institutions of government that are leading the Anti-Corruption fight. The law that allows for the commission to enter into agreements with individuals that conflict with the law should be repealed. We believe that those who break the law should be prosecuted in line with provisions of the law.”

She called on the new ACC leadership to institute investigations on officers involved in entering agreements with individuals who were alleged to have been involved in corrupt practices.

“We call upon the new Leadership at the Anti-Corruption Commission to institute internal investigations on the officers that were Involved in entering agreements and settlements with individuals who are alleged to have been involved in corrupt practices. We commend the approach that the commission has taken thus far in reversing the agreement that was entered into with Mr Chitotela, we further call on them to revisit other agreements or settlements that may have been entered upon previously that seek to evade justice,” Ziba said.

“As an organisation that works on ensuring leaders are held accountable, we reiterate our constant call on the Government to amend the Anti-Corruption Act No. 3 of 2012 by repealing Section 80 of the Act which provides for entering Non-Conviction Based asset recovery settlement. This law undermines the fight against corruption as it seems to embrace corruption on account of allowing offenders to enter agreements that let them walk free. It also creates a perception that the rich can easily get away with anything while the poor, vulnerable and downtrodden will face the wrath of the Law to its full extent.”

Meanwhile, Ziba called on government to fast-track the process of passing and enacting the Access to Information Bill.

“We further call on government through the Minister of information to fast track the process of passing and enacting the Access to Information Bill. With the access to information bill, questionable agreements, such as the one in question, would be available to the public and the ACC would be more accountable to the Zabian people, whom they serve. It is why we further call for this bill to be enacted and that it is given the necessary attention it deserves,” stated Ziba.