28 February 2013

Zambia: TIZ Demand Findings in Kabimba, GBM Corruption

Transparency International Zambia President Lee Habasoonda has written the Anti-Corruption Commission to make public the findings into investigations of ruling Patriotic Front senior ministers Wynter Kabimba and Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba.

"We recognise that the ACC made a public statement when these investigations were launched and the allegations were laid bare to the public. It will be important that in the same vein the ACC informs the nation if at all the two ministers have been cleared and the justification for such a clearance. As you may appreciate, these cases are matters of public concern and the current silence from the ACC, unfortunately is giving rise to unnecessary speculations," the letter reads in part.

Kabimba, the justice minister and PF Secretary General, is accused of engaging in

corrupt activities in the oil procurement deal the government awarded to Trafigura while his defence counterpart commonly known as GBM is accused of forcing a tender from Zesco for one of his family businesses.

The two were summoned for questioning but Kabimba appeared at ACC offices with a battalion of unruly PF cadres causing a premature end to his interview that was aborted in the process.

This prompted President Michael Sata to caution the ACC against investigating his ministers without his permission.

"It is not enough for any government to merely make public pronouncements on how much the leaders abhor corruption but practical steps have to be taken to fully address all allegations of corruption," stated TIZ in the letter. "Both TIZ and the public are expecting to know the next steps after the much publicised public debacle that happened at ACC where the Minister of Justice had to go to the ACC offices with a horde of cadres insisting that the matter was a public one... We wish to caution that the ACC will have no leg to stand on in future if they are seen to be applying double standards in their investigation and prosecution of alleged cases of corruption. ACC will contribute to the weakening of the fight against corruption."

Recently, the PF aligned Post Newspaper announced, quoting anonymous sources, that the two ministers had been cleared of the allegations.

But Habasoonda says the ACC made a public statement when investigating the two ministers and in the same manner should announce the outing of their findings.

Habasoonda, who before being elected TIZ president was Southern African Centre for Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) executive director, appealed that the fight against corruption should not have sacred cows.

The TIZ is being accused of taking a soft stance in its watchdog role since the PF assumed power with Executive Director Goodwell Lungu perceived to be close to the ruling party.

Lungu has been advocating for countrywide demonstrations on calls for the removal of fourth Republican president Rupiah Banda's immunity but until now has not commented on the ACC's sudden dismissal of cases against Kabimba and GBM and other corruption allegations.

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