Friday, December 31, 2010

DEC has lost it - Fr Chibuye

DEC has lost it - Fr Chibuye
By Chibaula Silwamba
Fri 31 Dec. 2010, 04:01 CAT

THE Drug Enforcement Commission has lost it and has departed from its initial mandate of conducting impartial investigations and prosecutions, says a Catholic priest.

But DEC spokesperson John Nyawali said attacks on DEC that it was being used by the government and MMD to persecute opposition leaders were very unfortunate because the Commission was a professional organisation with officers of high integrity.

In an interview yesterday, Mpika Catholic Church’s Fr Patrick Chibuye said it was saddening that DEC was being used to suppress views opposing those of government leaders.

He said DEC and other investigative agencies must protect everyone and prosecute anyone violating the law without interference from those in government leadership.

“The DEC is departing from its initial mandate,” he said.

[Well spotted to the female radio caller to ZambiaBlogtalkRadio a few weeks ago. The DEC is going well beyond it's mandate when it is looking into money laundering, which I would think would be the job of the ZRA. - MrK]

Fr Chibuye said the DEC’s departure from its mandate was because of weak government leadership.

“We have the weakest leadership Zambia has ever had. We have a compromised leadership,” Fr Chibuye said.

Fr Chibuye said President Banda should help Zambians by ensuring that DEC and other investigative wings carry out their work independently and the law take its course on whoever commits an offence regardless of their position.

The DEC was established in 1989 to deal with drug trafficking and abuse and became operational in 1990.

The DEC was strengthened by the enactment of Act 14 of 2001 which deals with the prevention and prohibition of money laundering.

The DEC’s mandate is to effectively and efficiently control and prevent the illegal production, trafficking and abusing of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and money laundering including the provision of rehabilitation services to drug addicts in order to contribute to the social economic development and maintenance of internal security.

And addressing journalists at an year end briefing in Lusaka yesterday, Nyawali denied allegations that DEC was being abused to persecute opposition politicians.

He said the DEC was serving Zambians according to their expectations.

“We are professional civil servants. We cannot speak like politicians. So it will be very unfair to put us at the same platform with politicians,” Nyawali said. “If you unveiled the veil on us being civil servants, we will take them on but in this case we cannot start to exchange words with politicians.”

On accusations that some ministers had dubiously amassed wealth within a short period, Nyawali said people with information should take advantage of the enactment of the whistle blowers Act to report such cases to DEC and other law enforcement agencies.

Nyawali said people demanding that DEC institutes investigations into the source of the funds President Banda was donating were ignorant about the law.

“I don’t see any problems in terms of donations. I am not saying we cannot do it investigate. If somebody brings a report to us that we suspect this is a money laundering case, we will definitely take it up,” Nyawali said.

He said there were laws in Zambia that had to be followed.

“You look at somebody who has immunity, how do you start investigating the President? The President has got immunity. So for us to start investigating, you need to go to Parliament, lift that immunity then do the investigations if we receive a report. But we have not received any report,” Nyawali said.

“These are misplaced and politically motivated arguments to derail the commission’s work in investigating money laundering. We haven’t received any report. Even if we received a report, there is immunity in place, so it’s ignorance of the law which is at play.”

He also said the DEC had arrested 73 people for money laundering activities involving a collective street value of K102.4 billion this year.

Nyawali said in 2010, there was an increase in drug trafficking and money laundering activities compared to 2009.

He said 4,523 people had been arrested for drug-related offences representing a 38 per cent increase compared to 2009.

“We know that there are drug barons out there who are using young people as drug couriers. We have spread our investigations to get to the source of people behind trafficking,” said Nyawali.

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