The Anti-Corruption Commission of Zambia says there has been a drop in the number of people reporting corruption cases to the institution. Acting ACC Director-General Rosemary Khuzwayo told a gathering at the launch of the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index that she does not understand why people have stopped reporting corruption cases nowadays.

“There is a drop in the number of reports that we are getting from members of the public. We do not understand why there is a drop, but there is a significant drop in the number of corruption cases that are being reported. People are not really reporting on corruption,” complained madam Rosemary.

“Then evidence also shows that in Zambia, huge amounts of monies are lost through kick-backs compared to other corruption avenues such as abuse of office. Another area of major concern for the ACC includes procurement; the manner in which contracts are awarded for roads and buildings.”

We find this to be the most embarrassing statement to have ever come from the Anti-Corruption Commission. We say this because, to our ears, this is a clear admission of incompetence and declaration of redundancy at the same time. We don’t know how the acting Director-General could not see what her remarks implied, because the answer to her question was embedded right in her own statement.

Why is the Anti-Corruption Commission boss shocked with the drop in the number of corruption cases reported to her institution, but she is not surprised with her institution’s failure to prosecute those few cases that are reported? How can Madam Rosemary and her management at ACC fail to identify the link between the political influence under which they operate, and the loss in public confidence? Isn’t that too obvious?

For example, if we reported a State House official engaged in corruption today, and take the evidence to the ACC office, who will have the balls at that institution to pick the phone and call the accused person for interrogations? Who, at ACC, can arrest a sitting Cabinet minister for corruption? No one! So, what’s the point in reporting corruption if nothing would be done about it at the end of the day? Why should members of the public risk their lives, reporting big criminals and only end up alone facing the wrath of those in power, while the ACC is watching from a safe distance?

When News Diggers! launched its print edition on December 17, 2017, the first lead story we published was from an interview with the Anti-Corruption Commission, in which we asked how the institution deals with corruption involving State House officials. The ACC spokesperson was frank enough to tell us that regardless of how much evidence one can avail to the Commission, if the corruption is connected to the sitting Head of State, an investigation cannot be done. Those with time can find the verbatim interview on this link:

What that simply means is that any corruption done in the name of the President, even if the President himself is not even aware that his name is being used, cannot be prosecuted. Again we ask; why is the ACC Director-General surprised that people have stopped reporting corruption cases lately? Why should people go ahead and provide evidence of corruption, which will end up in the trash bin?

Madam Rosemary, reporting corruption is not a hobby that someone is expected to do for their own pleasure. It is a huge risk to report corruption that would never be prosecuted because there is actually a likelihood that the same investigators may report you to the accused.

The point is that, those people whom the ACC is afraid of prosecuting are the real culprits of real corruption. Yes, the police traffic department may rank highest in terms of corruption prevalence rates among government institutions, but the fact is that the total amount of monies involved from all traffic corruption cases per year can be equal to only one corruption deal involving a State House official or the President himself! At Permanent Secretary level, Ministerial level, State House level and presidential level, corruption deals are transacted in millions of dollars – not the K50 that is denting the image of the police.

If those big guys at the top remain untouched, then members of the public have no reason getting involved in the fight against corruption; unless the ACC is waiting for a trader at Chilenje market to report a section chairman for receiving a bribe to allocate a market stand to someone. If that is the corruption that madam Rosemary wants to fight, then she might as well shift her office to a mobile money-like booth, because fighting that type of corruption doesn’t deserve the budget, infrastructure magnitude and human resource that ACC has.

In fact, while madam Rosemary was looking at the amount of money that government wastes through corruption in procurement, road construction and infrastructure building, we could not help but add the ACC to the list. The Anti-Corruption Commission wastes millions of taxpayers’ money investigating cases that end up abandoned because it’s their employers involved!