Investigating investigators

A truth commission must be established after the 2016 elections to investigate and prosecute the gross abuses of power and authority that have occurred in the last 12 years.

This period has witnessed the steady and pervasive degradation of governance institutions because power has been privatized by a hegemonic clique, leaving institutions impotent and invariably at the behest of those with political influence and control.

It is even difficult to assert that public officials are accountable to the people and the power they wield is intended to promote the common good.

Not too long ago a party cadre was killed in open daylight and the people who organized the brutal slaying are known, but the police have failed to move in, not even to hold an inquest into the death.

What are we to make of this?

The Zambia Revenue Authority knows people owing billions of Kwacha in taxes and that such people have with impunity refused to pay because they are connected to political heavy weights.

What are we to make of this?

The deportation of a number of investors at the instigation of their competitors commanding influence in the higher echelons of power has become common place.

Attempts to seek explanations invariably fail because the investigative institutions are seriously conflicted and compromised, so much that they openly refuse to investigate clear-cut cases of abuse of authority and graft.

The Anti-Corruption Commission, for instance, has refused to open and investigate why Zambia paid twice the price of fuel sourced from Trafigura. The figures are known and the people involved are known and indeed this irregular purchase is common cause and yet the institution that should investigate has simply refused to do so.

What are Zambians to make of this?

Recently two South African expatriates were extracted out of the Zambia Revenue Authority offices where they were making statements on issues of tax of Armcor. They were detained at Ridgeway Police station and then driven to Ndola where they were deported.

That our security agents could conduct themselves in this hair-raising manner raises many questions. Again to which institution do aggrieved Zambians turn to for redress? This is all the more complicated when the Anti-Corruption Commission which should be scrupulous and above board in its dealings is associated with the botched up investigations of the same company.

Who then will investigate the investigators?

Somehow all our governance institutions suffer from considerable institutional malaise from the years of abuse in which the executive arm has impinged on their operations.

The ACC has not only refused to investigate the Trafigura deal, but has also refused to investigate the plunder of assets from Access Financial Services  held at the Bank of Zambia.  Efforts of a major cover-up failed in a court of law and yet no effort whatever has been made to follow up the matter mainly because the people involved are politically connected.

Our ACC, Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) and indeed the police are shells and extremely pale shadows of the governance institutions that the Constitution and legislation has envisaged.

That is why this country must revisit the principle of institutional integrity.

This task is only possible if those who enact the next Constitution are held on the shortest leash possible to ensure that very serious safeguards are built into the constitution to eliminate the very damaging and degrading influence that the executive authority exercises on State institutions.

Those in power must realize that, their safest haven when they retire will lie in a strong Constitution which will protect them from heartless, selfish criminals who derive pleasure in usurping political authority.

Let those with ears hear.