TRANSPARENCY International Zambia president Sampa Kalungu says it’s not surprising that former secretary to the treasury Fredson Yamba was arrested and is being investigated for corruption.

And Kalungu says law enforcement agencies must do a thorough job and should not start running about simply because the President or government has called for the arrest of someone.

In an interview, Kalungu said it was saddening that corruption could be detected even at the level of secretary to the treasury.

“It is not surprising that the former secretary to the treasury Mr Fredson Yamba is being investigated. So for us, those people were in government and they are the ones who were custodians of public resources. Since even our way of fighting corruption has heavily focused on public resources, it is not surprising that those people are being investigated. We always emphasize that whoever is being investigated, let them preserve their rights. First of all, I want to treat the case of Fredson Yamba as [a] suspect, I don’t want to judge him myself, but I think the concern is corruption is being smelled at that level, then it is quite sad,” he said.

“Also this is a trend we have seen even at the level of secretary to treasury that is even a lower rank as compared to the past where we have seen the President themselves getting involved in issues of corruption. If corruption allegations later come on to be proven, that is something that is very worrying and it is very disappointing. That leads to people not having confidence in the system of the nation, especially around the Ministry of Finance. That is what we are saying, such positions need a vetting process so that the person who is given that portfolio is under oath, if they make an error, they also receive special punishment.”

And commenting on remarks by leader of the opposition in Parliament Brian Mundubile that civil society organisations and the church were silent despite the “many constitutional breaches” by the UPND government, Kalungu dismissed the claims.

“In terms of the civil society and the church being quiet about what is happening, first of all, we have been speaking, we have not been quiet. But also at the same time we are observing, we are seeing things the way they are happening. You remember the noise we were making even that time during PF, mostly [we] were pointing to some of the suspected cases. Some of these things are being confirmed by the investigations that are happening. So we cannot just again start talking because someone has been arrested. We talked for instance when the Anti Corruption Commission went into somebody’s property, they didn’t introduce themselves, they treated people inhumane, we condemned that,” he said.

And Kalungu said everyone who was involved in corruption in the past and now should be investigated.

“At the same time, when we don’t see anything wrong happening, the only thing we have been saying to law enforcement agencies is that let them do a thorough job. Let them not start cutting deals. People are much more interested not in deals but also in seeing that people are fully investigated and those that are found guilty pay for their mistakes and their sins. Those that are free, let them go scot free. Let them not start running about because the President has called for somebody to be arrested or the new government has called for somebody to be arrested, that will not help us because what will happen, they will do a very bad job, they will start going even for innocent people. In the end, they will start suing government back and government will lose money. So we will not be speaking just to condemn just because it is another government,” said Kalungu.

“On the other hand, we are also giving them a benefit of doubt, let us see how they are moving. But at the same time we have said like the way the UPND is fighting [corruption], there doesn’t seem to be a clear strategy on how they are doing that. They need to sit down and think through how they can fight corruption. We don’t want situations where there is so much noise about arresting somebody, then the following day it is so quiet. Our cry has been that everyone who is corrupt now and in the past, should be investigated but let us do that professionally. Investigations are much more closer to those who held public office and public resources because they are the ones who were in control of those things. So they can investigate anybody as long as they do it professionally and as long as they uphold the rights of anyone they are investigating.”