Joint CSO Statement on FIC Report
Mr President, be the hero and fight corruption: WHAT MORE EVIDENCE DO YOU NEED?
The Civil Society Organizations would like to commend the Financial Intelligence Centre for the effort and courage it has exhibited over the past 4 years in exposing financial crimes. They have taken up a task many in Zambia are scared to address. When it seems unfashionable and scary to talk about corruption in some circles, FIC has demonstrated leadership and shown that there will always be some people who will put the country’s interests first.
The President of the Republic of Zambia, His Excellency Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, is on record demanding that when he is availed evidence on corruption he would act accordingly. We remain wondering what kind of evidence the Republican President still needs before he can act and bring things to order. The latest financial trends report for 2017 makes sad reading, it clearly shows how weak the internal controls and systems have become in this country in ensuring accountability.
It is very disheartening that out of the 425 cases that were disseminated to law enforcement agencies, only one conviction has been secured. With an estimated 4.5 Billion Kwacha loss in 2017, we are deeply saddened that K 3.9 Billion is actually estimated to have come from tax evasion related cases. From the report, it is also established that corruption cases continue to be linked to public procurement contracts with the perpetrators of such crimes being politically exposed individuals or their associates.
In responsible governments, the Public Service has a responsibility for ensuring integrity of government processes such as procurement, thereby assume responsibility for administrative decisions, actions and inactions. However, currently in Zambia, this responsibility has been neglected. We are therefore disappointed that people who are supposed to protect public resources from abuse are in fact the same individuals who are at the fore front of amassing wealth for their own benefit at the expense of the struggling poor. For instance, how do you explain the awarding of tenders by quasi government institutions to companies that are non-tax compliant and also non-competent for delivery of services?
According to the report, funds obtained illegally through these government contracts have actually been used to buy property such as land and trucks. It is deeply regrettable that lawyers and accountants are being cited to have been used as conduits for financial crimes, when they are in fact, the professionals who should be spearheading the fight against the scourge. How do you justify the purchasing of 37 personal luxury cars and a football club using funds alleged to have been illegally obtained when civil servants no longer know their exact pay day. See the joy Civil Servants exhibit when news goes round that they have been paid. It is as if its a miracle of manna from heaven has occurred when its not supposed to be the case, as these are resources they have worked tirelessly for.
Ministers have a legislative and political responsibility to oversee actions of government in the jurisdictions under their ambit. We also note that Parliament has the power and mandate to monitor and demand accountability from government institution and their leaders. However, this has not been the case in Zambia. Parliament has often failed to hold the Executive to account much to the detriment of ordinary Zambians. As a matter of urgency, we demand that the President gives us a road map on how the looting of public funds will be put to an end as this evil act has negatively impacted Zambia’s Development.
We believe our comrades from the legal and accounting fraternity/ professions represent very noble careers which should not be soiled by desperate and crooked elements. As such we wish to request professional bodies like the Law Association of Zambia and the Zambia Institute for Chattered Accountants to effectively enforce disciplinary provisions and deal with their members involved in corrupt activities. To this effect, we call on LAZ to act on the revelations in the FIC report about a Law Firm engaged in corrupt transactions
We are also appealing to relevant government department’s to enhance systems relating to recovery of stolen state assets deposited in foreign jurisdictions. Zambia can learn from Nigeria which has been implementing a vigorous recovery of stolen state assets programme. However, we must emphasise that this will require adequate support from the President as we have observed in the case of Nigeria.
CSOs will soon share their version of the published cases in the 2017 report, where we will fill-in the blanks so that the public can know the football club that was bought using illegal money. The Zambian people are tired of having a few untrustworthy public servants and political figures masquerading to be representing public interest when in actual sense they are pursuing personal benefits.
We will further mobilize ourselves and seek an audience with the Head of State so that we can submit the evidence he has been requesting for.
For now, we wish to ask you Mr President, in anticipation that you will be our hero and show the corrupt elements referred to in the FIC the way out, we would be very delighted to see the cited individuals face the law.
Action Aid Zambia
Transparency International Zambia-TIZ
Alliance for Community Action – ACA
Zambia Council for Social Development- ZCSD
Civil Society for Poverty Reduction-CSPR
Centre for Trade Policy and Development-CTPD
Non-governmental Gender Organisations’ Coordinating Council -NGOCC
Consumer Unity and Trust Society – CUTS
Operation Young Vote – OYV