I shared earlier that Zambia Police Force used to handle cases of bribery and corruption in Zambia before 1980. The Zambia Police Force then (now Zambia Police Service -ZPS) was deemed not able to adequately deal with corruption offenses. In 1980, a bill in parliament was passed that culminated in the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Commission that was going to exclusively deal with corruption cases. The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) was established in 1980 under an Act of Parliament, the Corrupt Practices Act No. 14. The same way ACC, was established, is the same way another more effective Commission/Agency can be established with new and competent Staff to handle matters of National interest. There is no guarantee that incompetent staff will automatically be selected to cross over or indeed continue getting a monthly income (or obtaining money by false pretenses of working).
One line of thought has been that had Law Enforcement Agencies in Zambia like ACC, DEC, ZPS, ZRA, been effective and robust enough to combat the respective mandated financial crimes, perhaps there would not have been any need to establish yet another commission (AFECC). The duplicity of work if you asked me. We all remember that the creation of the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) was partly due to the fact that the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) – the AMLIU had structural and operational challenges of being under the DEC Commissioner who had to handle two ACTS/ pieces of legislation. Ms. Mary Chirwa is back at the helm of DEC, and she will need more than hope, prayers, and financial support to revamp the DEC.
It is clear that the two Commissions (ACC and DEC) and ZPS mandate would have simply been expanded and strengthened including appropriately funded and supported to adequately cover other Financial Crimes being anticipated to be covered under the proposed and yet to pe operationalized AFECC. Just in case, and so that we are all on the same page, International Compliance Association (ICA) considers the following as financial crimes: fraud, ID theft, electronic crime, electronic fraud, embezzlement, plastic money fraud, insurance fraud, Tax evasion, money laundering, terrorist financing, bribery and corruption, market abuse and insider dealing, information security, etc.
Here are practical examples of alleged corruption cases handled by ACC which have generated a lot of public interest, debate, questions, opinions, observations, concerns, and others wondering or gauging the capacity, ability, and competence of the ACC to fight the scourge.
1. In May 2019, the ACC arrested the then Minister of Infrastructure and Housing Honorable Ronald Chitotela, and charged him with one count of Concealing Property suspected of being proceeds of crime, and 8 counts of possession of property suspected to be proceeds of crime contrary to Section 71 subsection (1) of the Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime Act Number 19 of 2010.
2. In July 2019, Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Development Ronald Chitotela and his three co-accused were acquitted by Principal Resident Magistrate David Simusamba for lack of “sufficient evidence warranting them to be put on their defense”.
3. In August 2020, the ACC investigations Officer Chipampe Manda shocked the Lusaka Court Magistrate Lameck Mwale that Honorable Minister of Health then Dr. Chitalu Chilufya did not commit any crime. Honorable Chitalu Chilufya was acquitted and has now sued ACC. The ACC is battling with that case now.
4. In December 2021, nearly two months after she forfeited millions of Kwacha and US Dollars to the State through ACC to free herself from criminal prosecution, Faith Musonda was detained on fresh allegations of having property suspected to be proceeds of crime. The initial deal was questioned by many citizens.
5. Zambians watched ACC Officers conduct and procedure, the altercations and exchange of words during the search of Amos Chanda’s residences where Amos called ACC Officers a bunch of criminals. Another officer was quoted as having been blindfolded by one Ms. Mate mate the insultant as they allegedly entered the room in reverse gears. Social media things.
6. January 2022, An officer from the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Sweden Lusaka allegedly told the court that Former Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations, Amos Chanda, Wife Mable, and Sister in law, Ruth Nakaundi did not physically “obstruct” him from conducting a search at Mr. Chanda’s residence in Lusaka’s Woodlands area. This was when the case was held at the scene. Note that the ACC went for the “obstruction” case instead of the Bribery and Corruption matters. In this matter, Mr. Chanda , Wife Mable, and his sister-in-law Ruth Nakaundi are facing two counts of use of “insulting language and obstruction” of ACC Officers from conducting a lawful search at his residence.
7. In January 2022, the ACC searched former Minister and Kabushi Constituency Member of Parliament Honorable Bowman Lusambo aka Die Hard Bulldozer. The ACC issued a public statement that Lusambo was being investigated for possession of “49” houses. Zambians still remember the comedy and circus surrounding the “48 Ghost Houses”. Bowman was interrogated, detained without a charge. Days later, Bowman was slapped with an offense of possession of 4 properties suspected to be proceeds of crime. What really happened to the other 45 houses? Have they grown wings like the infamous 48 ghost houses? Comedy of errors!
8. Just before we forget the Anti-Corruption Commission from 2016 to 2021, took the Nation of Zambia on an emotional roller coaster pertaining to their inept handling/mishandling of the 48 “GHOST” houses in the Chalala area of Lusaka. The November 2021 announcement by ACC that they had arrested and charged Charles Mukomena Loyana Senior Accountant at the MOF, and his wife Susan Sinkala Loyana an Assistant Accountant at the Ministry of Works and Supply with two counts of corrupt practices involving concealment and possession of property suspected to be proceeds of crime valued at over K 37 million was neither exciting nor interesting. That just brought out yet other mixed feelings and opinions of the once vibrant institution called ACC. In the first count, Mr. Loyana aged 51, and Mrs. Loyana aged 46 of House Number 2728 off Shantumbu Road, Chalala in Lusaka have both been charged with One Count of Concealment of Property suspected to be proceeds of crime contrary to section 71 Sub Section 1 of the Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime Act No. 19 of 2010. In the second, the duo is charged with One Count of Possession of Property suspected to be proceeds of crime contrary to section 71 Sub Section 1 of the Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime Act No. 19 of 2010. As a couple, jointly and whilst acting together with others unknown, did conceal and possess Fifty-one (51) (instead of 48) properties valued at Thirty-Seven Million, Nine Hundred and Sixteen Thousand Kwacha (K 37,916,000.00), properties reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime.
Other high-profile corruption cases handled by ACC can be highlighted, but suffice to say that the public perception and confidence in the Institution is waning away and at a very fast rate. The ACC needs to know this, have frank talk amongst the rank and file, brainstorm, accept the unfortunate current state of affairs and implement effective measures to salvage the sinking Titanic. There are consulting firms within Zambia that can guide them through this process to move away from the current cacoon and rebrand and come out as a vibrant institution, the Zambia people expect it to be. For, now, much needs to be done.