Zambian President Rupiah Banda will forever be haunted for removing the abuse of office offence clause from the revised Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) Act, Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) has said.
TIZ executive director Goodwell Lungu is today quoted saying that the removal of the Abuse of Authority of Office clause from the revised ACC Act “has dealt a very serious blow to the fight against corruption as it was a direct ploy to legalise abuse of office in Zambia”.
“We want to put it on record that the internationally accepted definition of corruption focuses on bribery and abuse of public office and is aptly captured in all the major anti-Corruption Conventions including the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) protocol against corruption which Zambia is a party to, further defines corruption as including the living beyond of one’s means,” Lungu said.
“The SADC Protocol Against Corruption is very clear as it defines corruption as ‘any act referred to in Article 3 and includes bribery or any other behaviour in relation to persons entrusted with responsibilities in the public and private sectors which violates their duties as public officials, private employees, independent agents or other relationships of that kind and aimed at obtaining undue advantage of any kind for themselves or others” added Lunga.
Lungu said section 37 of the current ACC Act that was removed was in direct contravention of Article 20 of the UNCAC on Illicit enrichment.
“We as Transparency International Zambia, due to our relent efforts in the fight against corruption are extremely appalled and want to put it on record that the architects on this piece of legislation have further undermined the objectives and measures of the current Anti-Corruption policy that clearly calls for the strengthening of anti-corruption laws and not completely weakening such laws which the government is now doing.”
He said that the removal of abuse of office offence from the ACC Act was one of President Banda’s maneuvers to protect himself and his corrupt friends from future prosecutions. And according to the National Assembly Bill number 41 of 2010 presented to Parliament last Friday section 37 which catered for the offence had now been replaced by concealment of offence.
The bill, which 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, comes on the heels of a corruption case involving former president Frederick Chiluba. He was acquitted by the Lusaka magistrates’ court after having been charged with the theft of US $500,000 whilst in office.
According to the judgment, the acquittal was based on the fact that the prosecution team failed to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt on all counts against the former president.