The Media Liaison Committee (MLC) has noted with sadness attempts to dilute the credibility of the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) by those mentioned in the report and those failing to ensure the culprits mentioned in the report are investigated and brought to book.
The FIC’s Trends Report of 2018 has so far been condemned by President Edgar C. Lungu, some Patriotic Front party functionaries and the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) among other groupings.
The FIC is the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the Government of the Republic of Zambia which was established in November 2010 by an Act of Parliament called, ‘‘the Financial Intelligence Centre Act, No. 46 of 2010.’’ The FIC according to this Act is the sole designated National Agency mandated to receive, request, analyze and disseminate disclosure of information concerning suspected Money Laundering (ML), Terrorist Financing (TF) and other serious offences to competent authorities for investigations with the view of assisting with combatting ML, TF and other serious offences.
The MLC notes that last year alone, the FIC flagged off 80 cases of suspected corruption, money laundering, fraud and terrorist funding to law enforcement agencies.
The MLC expected the Head of State, who swore to uphold and protect the Constitution including institutions set up by the Constitution, to be respectful to the FIC and its work. MLC also expected President Lungu to be happy that there is a hard-working state institution like FIC among many sleeping ones that is working according to the law to protect the integrity of Zambia and its good governance. The FIC is helping President Lungu portray a positive image of a fight against corruption, tax evasion and money laundering amidst international reports like the Transparency International perceptions indices and others that depict increased corruption and diversion of public funds into private use in the Government of which President Lungu is head.
The MLC expected the Head of State to have been glad to receive a report that confirms what he and other citizens of goodwill have always suspected that there are bad elements in his government that are using their time in government to defraud, loot and plunder the national resources meant for development of Zambia.
The MLC would have expected that H.E Edgar Lungu would put to task state agencies like the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC), the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Zambia Police (ZP) on how many cases of the 80 reported by the FIC they had brought to court and how many they have cleared.
The MLC also notes a growing trend of disrespecting constitutional bodies like the FIC by the Head of State and those that work with him.
MLC notes with embarrassment the attack of FIC by a fellow state institution the DEC, who according to annual analysis is not doing a good job of protecting the country and our communities from an influx of drugs and has been in effect moribund in advising the country on the best way to operate in the era of many countries legitimising the use of cannabis for food and medical purposes.
The MCL notes that in the 2018 Trends report, the FIC provides for progressive recommendations aimed at protecting the integrity of doing business in Zambia and protecting the proper usage of taxpayer funds.
“Our appeal to the media, especially financial and investigative reporters, is to study the FIC 2018 report and help identify these schemes and deals that are defrauding the people of Zambia of their hard-earned taxes meant for development,” said MLC Chair Mr. Enock Ngoma.
“The MLC urges the media to partner with FIC in ensuring that the Zambian people are well informed of the bad deals and corruption of their civil servants and ministers in the government so that affairs of the government are handled by clean and honest government workers. Zambians that have evidence of government officials building mansions beyond their means should report these individuals to the media so they are investigated and exposed,” said MLC Chair Mr. Enock Ngoma.
Mr Ngoma adds “MLC urges all state institutions to emulate the hard work of the FIC under Mary Chirwa who despite operating in a harsh environment have continued to keep up with their constitutionally mandated role of flagging out financial ills being committed by those in charge of the operations of government. MLC is reminded of the past ACC under Ms Rosewin Wandi that followed through all corruption activities and helped clean the government off corrupt elements and deals.”
MLC encourages Director Mary Chirwa and her team to follow through all the illicit deals and ensure state resources are used according to their intended purposes and budget.
The MLC as a consortium of media associations advocating for professionalism in the way the media industry operates and as a watchdog to the three arms of government, is happy to lend its weight in support of the progressive work that the FIC under Director Mary Chirwa is doing.
By Enock Ngoma
Chairperson – Media Liaison Committee (MLC)