Voice of America (Washington, DC)

17 April 2014

Zambia Cabinet Minister Faces Inquiry Over Alleged Office Abuse

Zambia's Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has launched an investigation into alleged financial malfeasance and abuse of office against Youth and Sports minister Chishimba Kambwili, according to Timothy Moono, spokesperson of the ACC.

Kambwili is alleged to have instructed the Youth and Sports ministry to run advertisements in the Times of Zambia and the Daily Mail, both local newspapers, to congratulate him for obtaining a Bachelor's Degree in Development Studies at Zambia's Copperstone University.

"We are investigating a matter against a cabinet minister particularly the minister of youth and sports," said Moono. "It is about a number of adverts that were aired or published in two daily papers here, congratulating him on his achievement for attaining some degree certification from a local university. The allegations are that he directed the ministry to pay for those adverts or to have those adverts issued."

Moono says the graft investigation against the sports minister is generating publicity.

But, some opposition groups have dismissed the inquiry as a publicity stunt. In a statement, the National Restoration Party said it was unimpressed by the ruling Patriotic Party's (PF) graft fight claims after the investigation was launched.

"We are yet to see any real demonstration of a commitment by the PF to fight corruption and given their track record so far, we are unlikely to see any serious steps in the future. The ACC should, by all means, probe Kambwili, but let us not be hoodwinked into thinking this shows commitment to the fight against corruption. All it shows is that the PF is a prepared to fight perceived disloyalty at any cost," read the statement.

Moono disagreed that the investigation is a mere public relations exercise. He says the ACC investigators have remained professional and unbiased in conducting the inquiry against the minister.

"Let me assure and re-affirm that the commission has always worked tirelessly and professionally against any issue of corruption that is brought to its attention or which it comes across, and we have thoroughly and professionally addressed those issues to their logical conclusion, and we will continue doing so," said Moono.

"Some of the cases on corruption are in most cases very complicated and take a little bit of time," said Moono. "People are sometimes not patient to see them come through, but would want to judge and quickly make conclusions."

Minister Kambwili blames President Michael Sata's Press Secretary George Chellah for tipping off the ACC to begin the graft investigation against him, according to Zambia media reports.

But, Moono says he is unsure about the source of the information that led to the inquiry.

"I am not too sure of the genesis of the investigations, but I believe it could have come as a tip off to the ACC," said Moono.

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