Zambia’s former ruling Patriotic Front (PF), party’s Secretary General, Davies Mwila and Lusaka businessman, Valden Findlay, are among the first few allies of former President, Edgar Lungu, that have been summoned for questioning by some of the country’s investigative wings, following the new ruling United Party for National Development (UPND)’s landslide victory, in Zambia’s recently held general election.
The Anti-Corruption commission and Drug Enforcement Commission, seem to be keeping a close eye on such PF members, lately, for what commentators suspect to be corruption or money laundering.
This is something that most Zambians have been waiting to see, since new President, Hakainde Hichilema, took office, as they believe there was a lot of corruption in the previous government, which resulted into some PF members and sympathisers amassing a lot of unexplained wealth, while crippling the economy.
Richard Tembo, an advocate and activist against youth unemployment, bad governance and corruption, is one such citizen.
He says: “Under the new government, every one is highly expectant to see what we are referring to, as change. Under the former government, we saw a number of issues, one of which, is clear corrupt practices. Corruption was more like a daily routine, that our leaders could practice everyday.
The procurement of the 42 fire tacks, costing one million dollars, each, a clear case of daylight robbery and abuse of public funds. Talk of the honeybee scandals, where the ministry of health supplied us with sub-standard drugs and defective condoms. All these were clear cases of how corrupt our leaders, were.”
“So, the main message that the current [government] had in their manifesto during campaigns, was that they will do away with corruption and make sure that everyone who was involved or found wanting would be prosecuted. As such, we expect nothing, but delivery in this promise. ”
Emphasizing the need for independent investigative wings
Effen Cheelo, also a citizen, supports this sentiment and is optimistic that the government would leave investigative institutions to do their work without interference, as the President has indicated, already.
“I personally believe that law enforcement agencies are supposed to be given autonomy, to freely do their work. We as a country have been through this road before, but we have noticed that due to politicians and the government’s involvement, the process was always slow, emotional and a number of people were acquitted.
Many cases were thrown out after the culprits shifted camp and joined the ruling party. So, I believe that the President’s stance is quite alright, let him allow professionals to do their work without any interference,” he reckons.
Tembo, agrees and equally applauds the new President, Hakainde Hichilema’s stance so far, of letting investigative units do their work without interference, saying, it is a very clear sign that he respects the rule of law and the independence of investigative wings like the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Drug Enforcement Commission.
Appointing Credible Law Enforcers
Both Cheelo and Tembo, feel the President needs to appoint credible people to lead these institutions now, who can deliver to the people’s expectations.
“It is very vital in a democratic nation that institutions that are mandated to investigate issues relating to corruption and money laundering are left to work independently, without any form of intimidation, so that they can swiftly carry out their functions without fear or favour,” Tembo observes.
“We don’t expect these institutions to only deliver good results when ordered by the President. We expect them to carry out their functions, diligently, because their mandate is to fight corruption and see to it that anyone found wanting, be sent to the courts of law for prosecution. The current President knows how ineffective, these institutions can be when they are interfered upon.
It becomes very difficult for them to serve the interests of the people, because the only interest they will be serving is that of the President. The current people that are working under these institutions can not be trusted, because they failed to deliver when the country needed them the most. They showed loyalty to an individual and betrayed the country at large,” he claims.
“Let go of those that are proved to be incompetent and compromised, ” Cheelo stresses.
Tembo, is confident that prosecuting culprits and asking them to pay back, will serve as a deterrent to future like-minded leaders.
“By so doing, they will be laying down an example to those that are incoming, to serve the country and the citizens will get confidence in them. We heard from the President, where he said that they [the new government] inherited an empty treasury, so it will just be justice to the Zambians, if those that robbed us, be accountable for their actions, ” Tembo, concludes.