Several NGOs and all individuals have sprung to the defence of the Financial Intelligence Centre which is facing attacks from money launderers.
The NGOs say Zambia risks being blacklisted from the International community if government continues attacking the noble work of the FIC.
STATEMENT BY CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS IN SUPPORT OF THE FINANCIAL INTELLIGENCE CENTRE (FIC) AND THE FIC TRENDS REPORT DATED 13TH JUNE 2019
We, the undersigned civil society organisations (CSOs), wish to express our alarm at statements being generated by the government officials, including the Republican President and the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, against the recent Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) Trends Report. Most recently, in a statement dated 12th June 2019, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services released a statement calling the FIC’s Executive Director, Ms. Mary Chirwa’s response to attacks on her report as “unprofessional and uncalled for from a person presiding over an important governance institution”. The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services, Mr. Chanda Kasolo, has further stated that Ms. Chirwa is acting as “judge and Jury” by exposing these criminal activities. Most alarmingly, Mr. Kasolo has stated on behalf of the government that the Financial Intelligence Centre Act “requires to be looked at”.
Firstly, Ms. Chirwa has issued a statement on behalf of the Financial Intelligence Centre clearly outlining the legal mandate of the FIC. Zambia is a signatory to various international agreements on anti-money laundering and terrorist financing that require the FIC to undertake the very investigations that the government is now condemning. In fact, Zambia can be blacklisted internationally for failing to adhere to these international agreements. Secondly, we are concerned that the government has taken a very casual approach to corruption and public accountability in Zambia. The mere fact that those persons referred to in the FIC Report are politically exposed persons or PEPs seems to suggest that the government views these people as untouchable because they are politically exposed.
We, the undersigned CSOs wish to applaud the efforts of the management and Board of the FIC in continuing to perform their legally mandated duties under extreme pressure from those who do not mean well for the Zambian people. The FIC has exposed the high levels of corruption in the country. The money being stolen and misappropriated by the people referred to in the FIC report is money that could go to much needed areas such as civil servants’ salaries, re-opening the Copperbelt University, re-introducing university meal allowances, social cash transfers for the poorest and most vulnerable in society and medicines in our hospitals. The fact that the government wishes these thefts to remain hidden and to go unchecked reflects very badly on the state of governance and public accountability in this country where some are more equal than others. We echo the words of the FIC Board Chair, Mr. John Kasanga, criminals should not be emboldened. We are therefore urging the government to keep its hands off the Financial Intelligence Centre and the Act establishing it. We must stop corruption in the country and if the government will not do it, the people of Zambia will. We, the citizens of this country are rightfully, and ultimately the judge and jury in as far as our resources are concerned.
We are appalled that government clearly wants to shield those who are looting our country’s resources when the majority of citizens are wallowing in poverty. We see nothing wrong with FIC alerting the public that resources that rightfully belong to them are being looted. Only criminals will want such information concealed. We are left wondering what kind of government we have.
Signed for and on behalf of the undersigned civil society organisations and individuals:
Civil Society Constitution Agenda (CISCA)
Chapter One Foundation Limited