The Governance, Elections, Advocacy and Research Services – GEARS – Initiative Zambia cites the prolonged Court cases proceedings as the major weakness in the fight against the corruption process.
GEARS Executive Director McDonald Chipenzi stated that the weakness of the corruption process is at the Courts of Law because it takes too long to for cases to be discharge, for example, people who were arrested last year, their cases are still in Court and there seems to be no end to it and we have also seen cases that have been in Court for more than 10 years.
Mr Chipenzi noted that the corruption message and stance is expressive, but perhaps the execution is what needs to be improved as a mechanism needs to be put in place which will actualize the policies, actions, statements so that people can now see the fruits of this information that is being sent out there.
“Warning shots need to be sent out there, to say indeed someone has been convicted, arrested and so much money has been collected from the corrupt people, once that is done then the message must have sunk in, in too many people’s minds including the young ones, that corruption is a cancer that needs to be avoided,” he stated
He explained that at some point corruption is a political issue, so at the end of the day when everything is quite because the cases are in Court, people will now politicize by questioning where the convictions are and those convictions may come after the next term, so now they will say look now its because of politics that’s why they are bringing these issues.
He added that corruption itself is politics because the people that are being arrested are politicians and so what happens is that when a politician is arrested, they start politicizing the whole process by stating that they are being prosecuted for belonging to a certain political party, or region.
Mr Chipenzi has expressed disappointment in the Anti-Corruption Commission Fast Track Court for its failure to give a time frame on cases such as 90 days where these cases should have come to an end, because for the Commission to arrest someone, it means they have all the evidence so they should not take one year or two years in Court, within 90 days or 100 days the case should be discharged and someone should go free or go to jail.
“These cases need to be done away with quickly so that politics don’t seamer into people’s minds, we want to see 90 days finish and then people go to jail or go free,” he said
“An arrest can be done at any time, as it is not a process and it is just a one-off thing but conviction is through a process,” he added
Mr Chipenzi mentioned that investigative wings have the mandate to act within the confers of the law and the beauty about the Anti-Corruption Commission is that they always cite the law which anchors on the arrest made, so that if somebody does not agree with the section of the law that has anchored on their arrest, they can go and challenge it in the Courts of law.
“I have never read, a statement from the Anti-Corruption Commission that is plain without any section of the law being cited into there, so, already you can see that whatever they do is within the confers where the laws are,” he said
He stated that the major concern is that people are only arrested once they leave office and this is a concern because the fight against corruption is being done in arrears but the challenge has been that power has been put into the politicians, corruption is politics and if people give a politician so much power, they will abuse that power and because they can abuse that power these institutions become powerless.
“Because the moment one is about to be arrested, they will say no you will be fired we have seen people even Police Officers who will stop maybe a procession of the ruling party, will told that they will be transferred to a rural area,” he said
Mr Chipenzi said that this is why when people leave power, they become so powerless that they can catch them at any time and anywhere.
“We want to appeal to the new government that mechanism must be put in place to fight corruption yesterday, today and tomorrow, we should not wait for them to go out of power, a message must be sent that if one is corrupt and holding public office then they can be investigated, arrested and sentenced so that others can learn that that they should not involve themselves in any corrupt activities,” Mr Chipenzi stated
Mr Chipenzi highlighted this when he made an appearance on ZNBC TV2 Morning Live Show.