The CSOs recalled that President Edgar Lungu and Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Dora Siliya made scathing statements against the recent Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) Trends Report, which were targeted at FIC’s leadership.
“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,” CSOs comprising ActionAid, Caritas, Civil Society Constitution Agenda (CISCA) and Chapter One Foundation Limited stated. “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.”
They stated that the mere fact that those persons referred to in the FIC Report were politically exposed persons (PEPs) seemed to suggest that the government viewed 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,” they stated.
“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
Source: Zambia Reports