Zambia’s President Levy Mwanawasa is reportedly upset with the performance of the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) he set up to fight graft. President Mwanawasa, who has made the fight against corruption the foundation of his government's efforts, said it was unacceptable that some files were taking more than five years to work their way through the court system. But his opponents say Mwanawasa is frustrated because the ACC is not moving fast enough to prosecute his political enemies including former President Fredrick Chiluba.
Mike Mulongoti is Zambia’s new information minister. From the capital, Lusaka he tells the Voice of America that President Mwanawasa is frustrated with the Anti Corruption Commission.
“He has in fact retraced the historical perspective, in that the cases were taking long to prosecute and that investigations were taking unnecessarily long. So because of that, whenever a case goes to court, the cases were lost on account of either the witnesses have died or the witnesses because of time have lost recollection of the events that led to the issue,” Mulongoti noted.
He said President Mwanawasa’s frustration is not misplaced.
“He expressed his dissatisfaction in that he wanted them to expedite the cases because as you know, justice delayed is justice denied. I think in that context, of course, you would share in his intentions because corruption cannot be allowed to continue and he is committed to that fight. So because of that, he has to say it to the new chairman of the Anti corruption Commission,” he said.
Mulongoti said the government is careful not to be labeled as dictating to other arms of government.
“Each of these institutions is tasked to investigate corruption and all the other cases have got a mandate. And it is within their mandate to do what is expected of them. It is not for the executive to police them because sometimes that could be tantamount to interference,” he pointed out.
He said President Mwanawasa intends stopping graft to its barest minimum.
“As far as the government is concerned the political will is there, and I think the political will is there, and I think that is the role of government. Once they’ve established these institutions, it is up to those appointed to carry out these functions to ensure that they deliver on their mandate,” he said.
Mulongoti dismissed speculation that President Mwanawasa is frustrated because the case against former President Chiluba has gone cold.
“The executive has their one role to perform, and the judiciary has got their own role to perform. There is no way that the president would insist that one particular must be prosecuted expeditiously and sent to jail. That would be against the tenets of the separation of powers. So I as far as I’m concerned, I don’t think there is any truth in that. But a far as I know, there is no indication that he (President Mwanawasa) would want the former president to be put in jail (for corruption),” Mulongoti said.
He said he expects the newly appointed chairman of the ACC to transform the commission.
“The prospect for the future is that, after you’ve been told like that, if you are in the shoes of the management of that institution, you have to re-examine your strategies and your performance style, you have to ensure that the expectations of the people are met. This war is not for an individual; this is a national war, the recovery of these resources is intended to promote our development agenda,” Mulongoti said.