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Zambian Information Minister Takes Anti-Corruption Commission to Task

Zambia’s Minister of Information Mike Mulongoti is challenging the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to either arrest senior government officials allegedly being investigated for corruption or stop talking about them in the media. He also called on ACC director general Nixon Banda to come clean about allegations of impropriety that have been made against him.

From the capital, Lusaka, Mulongoti told VOA that in Zambia, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a competent court of law.

“The Anti-Corruption Commission was established for the purpose of spearheading the fight against graft within the country. However, our constitution provides that a person is innocent until proven guilty. The role of the commission is to investigate and take the matter before a competent court of the republic, which will pronounce itself on the outcome. It is not correct for them to release information to the newspapers about an investigation until they are certain that the investigation was carried out and conclusive. And they should take the matter before a court of law so that the court can pronounce itself on the matter,” he said.

Mulongoti called on ACC director general Nixon Banda to come clean about allegations of impropriety that have been made against him.

“Mr. Nixon Banda sits at the apex of the Anti-Corruption Commission, meaning that he must set an example because all other people who in the past had been accused have been called upon to give way so that independent people can make the investigation and be able to either make the information available for their prosecution or to clear anybody about the circumstances surrounding the person who is being investigated. It will not be right for one individual to wake up and say I am clean unless an independent group can investigate and be able to certify that yes all issues surrounding that individual have been independently ascertained and it is found that the allegations are either incorrect or malicious,” Mulongoti said.

Mulongoti denied the government might be trying to get back at ACC director general because Banda is investigating senior government officials for corruption.

“The challenge is not for me. The challenge is for the person who is investigating to take this matter that they are claimed they are investigating to a competent authority to make a decision over them. It is not a way of getting at an individual. Morality dictates that if you go to equity, you must go with clean hands. So it cannot be enough for you to investigate others when there is a matter surrounding you as the person who investigates,” he said.

Mulongoti said the Zambian government is committed to the fight against corruption as evident by its policy of a zero tolerance.

“The government’s position is that of zero tolerance to corruption. And this is why all institutions, not only corruption commission alone, but all other institutions that are tasked to carry out investigation and see the prosecution through have got this mandate and are not interfered with. But what the general public expects is that they want to see results at the end of the day,” he said.