Saturday, October 02, 2010

Removing ‘abuse of office’ will turn Zambia into a corrupt haven - ZCEA

Removing ‘abuse of office’ will turn Zambia into a corrupt haven - ZCEA
By George Chellah
Sat 02 Oct. 2010, 04:00 CAT

ZAMBIA Civic Education Association (ZCEA) executive director Judith Mulenga yesterday said removing the abuse of office clause from the ACC Act will turn Zambia into a corrupt haven.

Commenting on the government’s removal of the abuse of office offence clause from the revised Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Act, Mulenga said the removal of section 37 from the ACC Act, if passed by Parliament, would be a serious indictment on this Parliament.

“The removal of abuse of office will turn this country into a corrupt haven. Can the executive explain in very simple terms to the Zambians the mischief it has found with section 37 of the ACC Act?” Mulenga asked.

“In explaining this, we demand that the government should show a comparative list of all the cases tried under section 37 of the ACC Act and juxtapose all these cases against the ones tried under section 99 in the Penal Code. This way the public can see for themselves which of the statutes is more effective. What is the hurry in removing this section if not for very powerful vested interests?

In Zambia today there are many archaic laws that are still sitting on our statutes. Why hasn’t the government moved quickly to update the statutes? For instance, the comprehensive review of legislations relating to children was started in 2004 and thus far it is still dragging even with the support of the process by child rights cooperating partners.”

Mulenga said Zambians knew that issues of corruption were very complex.

“Cases of corruption are actually white collar crimes and in most progressive countries, special units are created and trained in special skills to investigate such crimes and hence the creation of the Anti Corruption Commission. South Africa has the Scorpions,” Mulenga said.

“Section 37 gave the ACC the clout it needed to be effective in the fight against corruption. Removing it is like removing the canines of a dog, then giving it a bone to chew.”

Mulenga reminded Parliament that Zambians were watching.

“This will be a litmus test for Parliament to act in the public interest. Let not this Parliament be like the one that overnight made murder a bailable offence because the then President’s son was facing a murder charge, or the other Parliament that also overnight made motor vehicle theft an unbailable offence because a cuckolded president wanted to punish his wife’s alleged lover,” Mulenga said.

“I strongly urge the Honourable members of parliament not to pass this Bill for the sake of the many helpless Zambians who do not hold high offices and who are at the mercy of public officials.”

According to the National Assembly Bill number 41 of 2010 presented to Parliament last Friday for first reading by acting leader of government business in the House Mkhondo Lungu, section 37 which catered for the offence had now been replaced by concealment of offence.

The bill states that a person commits an offence if they intend to defraud or to conceal the commission of an offence under this part or to obstruct an officer in the investigation of any offence.

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