MORIBUND INVESTIGATIVE AGEN­CIES

Daily Nation Newspaper - - HOME NEWS -

OUR investigative agen­cies in­clud­ing the An­tiCor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion, Drug En­force­ment Com­mis­sion and Zam­bia Po­lice Ser­vice are truly moribund and a dis­grace to the na­tion for fail­ing to in­ves­ti­gate clear and open cases of cor­rup­tion, thereby ex­pos­ing the coun­try to ridicule among donors and many coun­tries of good­will. Nearly two years ago we pub­lished a se­ries of sto­ries ex­pos­ing ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties at the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion. We were roundly con­demned for the ex­po­sure to the ex­tent that the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion stopped ad­ver­tis­ing in our news­pa­per and la­belled us un­pa­tri­otic. It has now taken donors to stop fund­ing for the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties to spring into ac­tion. None of the investigative agen­cies took any no­tice or ini­tia­tive in the mat­ter. We were vin­di­cated yes­ter­day, when the act­ing Min­is­ter of Gen­eral Ed­u­ca­tion, Mr Vin­cent Mwale, ad­mit­ted that more than K19.5 mil­lion had been mis­ap­pro­pri­ated from the Min­istry and that more than 80 erring of­fi­cers in­volved in fi­nan­cial ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties had been sus­pended fol­low­ing a foren­sic audit re­port. This is a huge num­ber of of­fi­cers to be sus­pended at the same time. If the investigative arms of gov­ern­ment, in­clud­ing Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion, Drug En­force­ment Com­mis­sion and Po­lice Ser­vice had taken the trou­ble of in­ves­ti­gat­ing our re­ports, the rot would have been nipped in the bud and vast amounts of money would have been saved. But as it stands, the money has been lost and equally, donor sup­port will not be ex­tended, per­haps un­til af­ter mech­a­nisms have been put in place to seal loop­holes through which the money was stolen. Sadly, the great­est losers are the learn­ers who would be de­nied re­sources, in­clud­ing teach­ing aids, be­cause cus­to­di­ans of pub­lic funds dipped their hands into the till. We have said be­fore and will con­tinue to say that our role as a me­dia is to ex­pose wrong do­ing wher­ever it oc­curs. We ex­pose abuses of power, priv­i­lege and author­ity. We do not con­duct witch hunts nei­ther do we take our priv­i­leged po­si­tion lightly. It is how­ever dis­ap­point­ing that on many oc­ca­sions, we have un­der­taken se­ri­ous investigative re­port­ing, ex­pos­ing grave abuses of power which re­ports have been sim­ply ig­nored by the agen­cies re­spon­si­ble for pros­e­cut­ing cul­prits. We refuse to ac­cept the no­tion that these agen­cies have no ca­pac­ity. We have ex­per­tise at all lev­els of gov­er­nance, but which ex­per­tise is ei­ther ig­nored, side­tracked and in some cases de­mor­alised by the lack of sup­port from su­pe­rior of­fices that should give ef­fect to dras­tic con­trol and dis­ci­plinary mea­sures. In some cases, the in­ter po­si­tion of roles be­tween the po­lit­i­cal and tech­ni­cal po­si­tions has been re­spon­si­ble for in­er­tia and lack of ac­tion be­cause tech­nocrats fear for their jobs if they stepped on po­lit­i­cal toes. This should not be the case be­cause both the politi­cians and tech­nocrats are work­ing to­wards the greater good of the na­tion. The Pres­i­dent has al­ready in­di­cated his open sup­port for good or­der in the ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice and the re­sources put at the dis­posal of dis­burs­ing of­fi­cers. He has vowed not to pro­tect wrong­do­ers, a pol­icy di­rec­tion that should guide all gov­ern­ment op­er­a­tives. What has hap­pened at the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, as was the case at the Min­istry of Health, is un­ac­cept­able. When graft be­comes the norm it be­trays a malaise de­serv­ing of harsh treat­ment. In the strug­gle against graft, there should be no sa­cred cows and we hope in the fu­ture both the ACC, DEC, and po­lice will take us se­ri­ously when we ex­pose ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zambia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.