WE have been watching, in disbelief, ministers and members of parliament dishing out millions of kwacha to church organisations and community groupings in their constituencies. One minister actually pulled K50,000 from his pocket to donate to a Church. Huh! That’s K50 million in old currency, just moving around with it like pocket change in the hands of a millionaire. This is very shocking. But we are here to remind these thieves that not everyone is sleeping.
All these people who are stealing from the government have chosen very dangerous paths for their lives. The enjoyment they are experiencing now will be short lived. When there is change of government, these people will find Zambia too small to live in. This country has seen smooth criminals before. Criminals who have looted the treasury in stealth mode, but justice caught up with them before they could finish enjoying the proceeds of their criminal activities.
We find the criminals in the Patriotic Front government very primitive actually, because they don’t seem to understand one thing about government money. Government money doesn’t move without paperwork. Government money cannot be moved by one person. There are systems in place. It’s easy to connive with a Chinese contractor here and there, agree to give each other kick-backs in cash, and think you have conquered the world. But that is only the beginning of serious problems.
Those who think they are safe because they are not stealing directly from the accounts department of government, and those who think they are clever because they collect corruption money in opaque bags at night, are actually quite foolish. The law is simple. According to the forfeiture of proceeds of crime Act, investigators at the Anti-Corruption Commission don’t need to know where you stole the money before they can arrest you. If you have property, wealth, cash that you cannot account for, then it’s simply proceeds of crime.
We wish to draw the attention of these criminals who are dishing out money to the case of one Austin Liato who was sent to prison over K2 million which he had buried underground at his farm. To this very day, no one knows where that money was stolen from. No one knows whether it was stolen directly from his ministry or it was a kick back from a Chinese contractor. What landed the former minister in prison is the simple fact that he failed to explain how he earned that K2 million. Just having money that had no clear source was enough to get him in trouble. Unfortunately for Mr Liato, there was no magistrate to clean him up, like we are seeing today. There was no court to acquit him. He went in because his wealth could not correspond with his known income, inside and outside government.
We have heard these criminals claim that they own private businesses and they became rich before going into government. That is okay, but whatever business that is, the law demands that if that business was paying you K50 million a month, there must be a corresponding record at the Zambia Revenue Authority, indicating the income tax you paid. So apart from that business proving that it was making all that money, you also have to prove that you earned your salary and you did not evade tax.
That’s what these criminals in PF should know. Prosecuting the Chiluba case, State Counsel Mutembo Nchito once said “where there is a credit, there must be a debit recorded somewhere”. What he meant is that money can’t just drop from the sky and fall into the pockets of a politician, just because he is serving in government. Whenever money appears, it has come from somewhere and it can be traced back to the source. In the same vein, money cannot just disappear in thin air. There is always a trail that shows where it has gone.
Corruption investigators will also tell you that the easiest cases to prove are those where you steal, buy property and put it in the name of your poor relative from the village. There is no way a poor person from the village can prove that they own 48 houses in Lusaka, and that they are richer than their uncle who was a Minister in government. So there is nowhere to hide, and these criminals must know that a time for reckoning is coming. Government money is like a curse, it will follow you.
We are not sleeping, we are watching!