LAWYERS representing former President Rupiah Banda have written to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) questioning the legality, propriety and procedural correctness of the announcement that it had written to the Director of Public Prosecutions appealing his acquittal in the abuse of authority case when they do not have such powers, his lawyers have revealed.
Defence counsel Makebi Zulu has confirmed writing to ACC because it did not have such powers as to direct the DPP to appeal the Nigerian oil case which was also out of time and therefore statute barred.
He also expressed surprise that while the courts normally gave parties 30 days to appeal, the ACC was making its intention known after four months of the former president’s acquittal.
ACC spokesperson Timothy Moono said yesterday in Lusaka at a press briefing that the commission was considering appealing Mr Banda’s acquittal.
And the Gallant Youth in Zambia (GYZ) executive director Henry Mulenga has said the attempt by the ACC to appeal the acquittal of Mr Banda was misplaced and will just waste public resources.
Mr Mulenga said it was for this reason the commission had been doubted in the manner they handle cases, owing to the fact that Mr Banda’s oil deal had been investigated a long time ago before it was committed to the courts of law.
“These are the issues which could have been done a long time back by the same ACC, and the courts could have not even wasted their time, but wanting to appeal the case at this time will be a waste of time and resources, especially that the country is faced with various economic challenges that need attention,” he said. Mr Mulenga urged the Ministry of Justice not to entertain the ACC’s decision to appeal the case, alleging that there might be some individuals who wanted to waste resources for the reason best known to themselves.
Mr Moono said currently, the Commission had taken interested in various cases, citing former president Rupiah Banda‘s case in which he was acquitted of the alleged charge of abuse of authority of office in an oil deal involving a Nigerian company.
He said the process to appeal former President Banda’s acquittal had begun, but was only awaiting the feedback from the national prosecution authority.
And the ACC has recorded 387 reports of suspected cases of corruption during the third quarter of which 62 cases were under investigations.
Mr Moono said the Commission wished to clarify that not all irregularities that were reported in the Auditor-General’s reports fall within the mandate of the ACC, despite the long standing cordial relationship that exists between the office of the Auditor-General and the Anti-Corruption Commission. He said the Commission would endeavour to follow up on reports of suspected corruption and address the corruption scourge from different fronts.
Mr Moono said the Commission believed that a lot of progress had been made towards addressing corruption in Zambia as evidenced from both local and international data. He appealed to members of the public to continue being proactive and report all suspected cases of corruption to the Commission, considering that members of the public actually witnessed those corrupt transactions.
Mr Moono said Commission would not be derailed by any negative comments and unwarranted criticism from any person or entity, but would continue advancing the fight against corruption and strengthening partnership with stakeholders to achieve even greater results.
“According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) rating between 2010 and 2014 indicates corruption levels in Zambia are perceived to be decreasing,” he said. Mr Moono said the Commission continued to sit in as an observer capacity on a number of Tender Evaluation Committees constituted by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in order to ensure integrity of processes.
“The Commission continues to conduct different outreach programmes aimed at sensitizing as many people as possible on matters of corruption so that people’s mindsets begin to shift from acceptance of corruption as part of everyday life, to rejection and resistance of corrupt practices,” he said.