Monday, August 09, 2010
By Ernest Chanda
Mon 09 Aug. 2010, 04:00 CAT
PROFESSOR Michelo Hansungule has challenged Vice-President George Kunda to provide evidence of people convicted for abuse of office under the Penal Code as opposed to the current Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) Act.
Commenting on Vice-President Kunda's justification of the intended removal of abuse of office offence from the current ACC Act, Prof Hansungule argued that police had no capacity to fight corruption under the Penal Code.
“What a shame! How can a country's Vice-President who is really Vice-President say such a thing? Is George Kunda trying to reveal something we don't know about abuse of office in President Rupiah Banda? Why would he say this? The Penal Code
under Police jurisdiction he is referring us to, can he simultaneously give us supporting evidence of police prosecutions and successful convictions Police have recorded for abuse of office during the time Kunda has been in government?" Prof Hansungule asked.
"George Kunda should be realistic. The police whom Kunda suddenly has all the confidence in actually happen to be the main 'customers' of the Anti-Corruption Commission. I believe the Vice-President has not yet read the annual reports of the ACC. Otherwise why would he say this? Evidence of police incompetence in fighting corruption is there in plain and white. This is why the ACC was established. We could not have established the ACC had police demonstrated the will to fight corruption."
Prof Hansungule questioned Vice-President Kunda's morality in replacing a good law with a bad law.
He said it was abnormal to replace something functional with a non-functional thing.
“You can't repeal something that is working to replace it with another that does not work. It is beyond comprehension that this could be the case. Only Rupiah Banda and George Kunda's government would have prerogative to ban good laws in favour of laws that have never worked. What 'prerogative' is the Vice-President talking about? Does he even understand the word? Except for the most corrupt, government has no prerogative to narrow the field for fighting crime,” he said.
He challenged President Rupiah Banda to state his position on Vice-President Kunda's fight against the abuse of office offence.
“Why has President Banda kept quiet on this? Since the matter was raised in Parliament by Katuba MP Honourable Jonas Shakafuswa, President Banda has remained conspicuously silent. What should we read from this?” Prof Hansungule asked.
“Has he looked at the mixed signals the measure is sending to our people and to the international community on the country's stand on corruption? In one breath, we ratify international instruments joining the international community to fight abuse of office. In the next, we renege and start kissing those who abuse public offices to enrich themselves from the proceeds of the poor."
Prof Hansungule warned that no amount of scheming would stop Zambians from fighting corruption.
He likened events in the current government to a fictional movie.
“George Kunda must understand that no amount of scheming to create 'soft landing' for his colleagues will change the resolve of Zambians and the international community to fight corruption. The recent by-election on the Copperbelt, which was settled in favour of the opposition is the clearest indication that as far as ordinary Zambians are concerned, corruption will not be tolerated. Of course there are 'things' behind this otherwise how else can one explain this political madness against justice?" asked Prof Hansungule.
"It is only in fictional movies that things such as in Zambia happen. You can't expect them anywhere else in the world. First, it was President Rupiah Banda giving his parallel judgment acquitting Frederick Chiluba simultaneously as the magistrate was reading his discredited judgment. Where else do such things happen? Now, it is a Vice-President busy fighting his own law, misleadingly calling it a duplicate of an older law in the Penal Code."
On Friday last week, Vice-President Kunda told Parliament that the government had the prerogative of choosing where the abuse of office clause remains in the law.
Responding to a question during the Vice-President's question time from Zambezi West UPND parliamentarian Charles Kakoma who wanted to know if Cabinet had decided whether or not to remove the abuse of office offence from the revised ACC Act and when the bill would be presented to Parliament, Vice-President Kunda said the government does not want duplication of laws.
"I can confirm that we are reforming the law on the fight against corruption. And one of the laws under review is the Anti Corruption Commission Act. We have revised the law on whistle blowers and many others, and now it's time to move to the ACC Act. As for abuse of office offence, it exists even in the Penal Code," said Vice President Kunda.
"So, you can see that we want to avoid duplication of offences. But I can assure that abuse of office will continue to be an offence. As for where it will be placed, that is our prerogative as government. We want to update our laws so that they are consistent. We want laws which are in accordance with principles of justice and are acceptable to Commonwealth standards."