Britain asks ACC to ignore individuals’ status

British High Commissioner James Thornton has asked the ACC to investigate and prosecute all cases regardless of the position of the individuals who come to its attention.

Responding to a press query from the Daily Nation, the envoy said the fight against corruption was important for Zambia and that rooting out the vice was a big task that needed concerted efforts.

“My first public engagement after presenting my credentials was to speak at an Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) event. We strongly believe that the ACC, like all investigating and prosecuting bodies, should take action on the evidence that it has, without regard to the position of the individuals who come to its attention” he said.

Earlier this year, President Michael Sata directed the ACC to seek his consent before investigating his ministers. This was after his Justice Minister was summoned over the infamous Trafigura Oil procurement deal.

He further said that Zambia had made significant progress in tackling corruption that has resulted in the conviction of several high ranking public officials and service chiefs.

He observed that so far there was good progress on investigations and convictions since the Patriotic Front government came to power.

Thornton said his government welcomed the decision to re-introduce the Abuse of Office clause in the Anti Corruption Act and the adoption of the second national anti corruption policy.

He advised that Zambia publishes all revenues received from the mining sector in an effort to reduce the risk of stealing revenue since it was a signatory to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

“Britain is looking forward to the continuation of the key financial management reform as the Zambian government had adopted government strategy for improving public financial management and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Office of the Auditor- General (OAG). This will allow the ACC to gain fist hand access to audit findings related to corruption,” he said.

Thornton said that the fight against corruption was very important.

He said the UK, through its development programme had supported the corruption fight through financial and technical assistance to the ACC since the 1990s.

Thornton said his government welcomed the National Anti-Corruption Policy.

He said the project supported education and awareness on corruption by working directly with civil societies and Zambian citizens.

He said he was happy that the education and prevention work looked promising and cited the inclusion of corruption prevention and integrity values in the education curricular for grades 1 to 12 as one of the achievements.Thornton further said that the ACC was currently working with government institutions to ensure that their internal structures to fight corruption.He said the British government hoped that the Zambian government would remain committed to the fight against corruption.