By Michael Chishala
For the month of July 2019, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) wins the award for the most useless public institution. It was a very closely fought battle with the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA), but ACC found some extra reserves in their tank over the last kilometre and won the Marathon of Uselessness.
The entire head of ACC comes on TV and starts saying things that can make you insult. She says that ACC has closed the 48 Flats case because the entire ACC with all the really smart people in it and government power backing them cannot trace anyone to charge with a crime. Hmmmm.
How about asking the 48 tenants to tell you who they have been paying close to K2 million per year in rentals? The names on the title deeds and utility bills may be useless, but whoever is receiving K2 million a year is surely the owner, or a front for the real owner, not so? I mean how can someone receive such large amounts of money and have nothing to do with the flats? I am 100% sure if they follow the money, ACC can also easily establish who built the flats.
So dear ACC, why don’t you drag whoever is collecting the K2 million to court and ask them to testify under oath? Even if the rentals are being collected by some shell corporation from Panama, they must be registered in Zambia with shareholders and directors listed at PACRA, not so? Why can’t these shareholders and directors be dragged to court where they shall sing like a Canary bird before a judge and we will get to know the owner of the 48 flats, who must have spent something in the region of K10 million to build them all? (Oh, and you might want to ask them where they got the K10 million.)
But as former President Kenneth Kaunda used to say, “Stupid question! Sit down!” The ACC employees would have to be complete and utter idiots not to ask such obvious questions and follow the money. They obviously did, and they have a nice fat dossier loaded with damaging incriminating information. Which then begs the question of what the hell is going on. Well, it’s very simple really.
ACC must be just following orders from “upstairs” not to go after the owner of the flats because he is “connected” to the top floor. This then begs another question. If the ACC employees are being hamstrung by the people from “upstairs”, why can’t they just leak the incriminating information to all the independent news outlets like News Diggers, Lusaka Times, Zambian Watchdog or Zambian Observer? It’s not too difficult to go to an obscure Internet Café somewhere and create a fake email address and anonymously send documents with details. Or maybe send using the contact forms on websites. (Of course you have to be extra careful when getting digital copies of the documents because there are too many shushushus in these public institutions).
So, perhaps ACC should stop wondering why people have stopped reporting corruption cases to them. Maybe they should change their name to PCC; Pro-Corruption Commission.
And for this, PCC, sorry ACC, wins the “Most Useless Award” for July 2019.
Now to the runner up, ZICTA.
They deserve a special mention because of how they have sat with their arms folded, watching our data bundles being stolen by the Internet companies due to silly expiry dates. Never mind that the expiration for airtime was scrapped more than 15 years ago, but the ZICTA people failed to apply the same logic to data bundles, even though they themselves are victims. Maybe some clever chaps at these internet companies get the expired bundles and resell them to other people who also end up not using them completely and the expired data is resold and so on. Pretty clever scheme, hey? The lack of action all these 15 plus years forces the public to begin speculating that maybe there are large brown envelopes involved. Enough said.
So dear ZICTA, why did it have to take the entire Parliament to get you to do your job? You are paid so much money that you don’t even know what to do with it, so you end up buying the American Embassy for $5 million and you even begin extending such a massive building. Your colleagues at Bank of Zambia (BOZ) did the honourable thing by stopping the thieving banks from slapping us with silly charges for everything under the sun, including closing your account, or for having a negative balance due to the monthly charges. There is so much automation using computer servers that one wonders why we previously had to pay K20 to close an account, something that can be done in 5 seconds at the click of a mouse, or otherwise automatically done by software for accounts inactive for over 6 months. BOZ did not wait for Parliament to tell it to do its job.
And let’s not forget the utterly useless service from the likes of Airtel who also need a change of name to Airfail (or is it Airhell?). More than half of Airfail, sorry Airtel calls either cannot go through, are dropped or you cannot hear or be heard. It seems the fines the mobile companies paid earlier this year to ZICTA are pocket change. How about increasing the charges ten times?
It should’t be too difficult to get the Minister in charge of Communications (Hon. Mutotwe Kafwaya) to sign a Statutory Instrument (SI) to this effect since the minister is also a victim of this nonsense from the mobile companies. Or are you people at ZICTA again waiting for Professor Geoffrey Lungwangwa to do his thing again?
Another candidate worthy of mention for this award was ZESCO, who despite loadshedding the whole country for 4 hours a day still often cuts power for the whole day claiming “maintenance”. When being considered for the Most Useless Award, they failed to make the cut because of very strong competition from ACC and ZICTA.
The author is a Zambian blogger, entrepreneur and web and software developer and is an Engineer by training. Email: michael [at] zambia [dot] co [dot] zm.