Thursday, October 29, 2009
By Mwala Kalaluka
Thu 29 Oct. 2009, 18:20 CAT
CABINET has decided to ‘fuse’ the Task Force on Corruption into the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in line with the recently launched National Anti-Corruption Policy.
Vice-President George said in a ministerial statement in Parliament on Thursday that the decision was reached at during a Cabinet meeting of October 28, 2009.
“The Task Force shall be transformed into a department of the Anti-Corruption Commission with immediate effect. Under this policy the Anti-Corruption Commission shall be the lead institution in the fight against corruption,” Vice-President Kunda said.
“The Anti-Corruption Commission shall take over all the criminal cases started by the Task Force on corruption and continue with their investigation and or prosecution.”
Vice-President Kunda said it was common knowledge that the Task Force on Corruption was currently being managed by the Director General of the ACC, who is its current chairman.
“During this transition period only one private prosecutor currently prosecuting the remaining cases for the Task Force on Corruption shall be allowed to continue with those cases, under the auspices of the Anti-Corruption Commission, but his terms of engagement shall continue to be reviewed depending on the volume of work still to be attended to,” Vice-President Kunda said.
“Hon. Members may wish to know that of the three private legal practitioners engaged by the government to prosecute for the Task Force, one of the legal practitioners had his services terminated due to lack of work, while the other, namely, Col. Godfrey Kayukwa was appointed Director General of the Anti-Corruption Commission. This left only one private legal practitioner, namely, Mr. Mutembo Nchito who is still dealing with the remaining cases.”
Vice-President Kunda said the Task Force on Corruption was an ad hoc institution that was established by the late president, His Excellency Dr. Levy Patrick Mwanawasa SC in July 2002 in exercise of his presidential powers to investigate and prosecute cases of plunder of national resources and corruption, which occurred during the reign of second republican president, Frederick Chiluba between 1991 and 2001.
“The Task Force on Corruption members drawn or seconded from the Zambia Police Force, the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Drug Enforcement Commission and the Zambia Security Intelligence Service and has been assisted by private legal practitioners of cases,” Vice-President Kunda said. “The Task Force on Corruption has substantially executed its mandate and most of the cases under its jurisdiction have either been concluded or are pending appeal in higher courts. A few cases are pending trial in the subordinate courts.”
He said in line with the National Anti-Corruption Policy, the government shall build the ACC’s capacity and create specialised departments that shall deal with related crimes such as fraud, financial crime, corruption and money laundering cases that were being investigated and prosecuted by the Task Force on Corruption shall be fused in the relevant department referred to above.
“Under this new arrangement, government shall employ highly motivated legal practitioners, forensic investigators and other experts,” Vice-President Kunda said.
Vice-President Kunda said eventually the government shall discontinue the practice of relying on private prosecuting cases and rely on public officers.
“With regard to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, which I have already mentioned, government shall pass legislation for the creation of the National Prosecution Authority which shall employ highly motivated legal practitioners to prosecute cases under the direction and superintendency of the Director of Public Prosecutions,” he said. “The same arrangement has been introduced in respect of the Legal Aid Department which has been turned into al statutory board known as the Legal Aid Board.”
He said conditions of service for these experts in the ACC would be improved and that in fact conditions of service for officers in the ACC had been improved tremendously recently.
“There is need to fight corruption in a coherent and not fragmented or duplicitous manner,” Vice-President Kunda said. “The Task Force on Corruption in executing its mandate has successfully prosecuted several high profile cases involving senior public officials and other persons and traced and recovered several assets which were misappropriated and or corruptly acquired from public funds. Notwithstanding this position however sustaining the operations of the Task Force and retaining private legal practitioners in Zambia and in foreign countries has been very costly to government.”
Vice-President Kunda, who urged cooperating partners to support the fight against corruption, said the Task Force on Corruption was not created by an Act of Parliament.
“The Anti-Corruption Commission which is assimilating the Task Force on Corruption is already backed by an Act of Parliament and we shall enact further legislation to strengthen the fight against corruption.”