LABOUR Minister Fackson Shamenda could have committed a jailable offence of up to two years imprisonment by failing to report to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) or the police within 24 hours an allegation of attempted bribery by Dangote Industries Zambia (DIZ) Limited.
The Anti-Corruption Commission has since declined to commence investigations into allegations by Mr Shamenda that a Dangote official attempted to bribe him (Shamenda) but has instead warned the Labour Minister that his failure to report the allegations without reasonable cause amounted to an offence.
ACC public relations manager Timothy Moono told the Daily Nation yesterday that there was a lapse on the part of Mr Shamenda to wait for more than 24 hours to report the alleged bribe attempt and if the commission was going to commence investigation against Dangote, there was likelihood that Mr Shamenda could have committed an offence.
Mr Moono said the allegations against Dangote were made public and that the commission was of the view that the minister had failed to report the matter to ACC and police before making an open allegation.
And Mr Moono said in a statement that members of the public should always report any cases of alleged or suspected corrupt practices directly and in confidence to the Anti-Corruption Commission.
He said in light of various queries received on the position of the commission on alleged bribery against Dangote, ACC confirmed having received the complaint from Mr Shamenda but could not institute investigations into the matter.
Mr Moono explained that the commission had decided against commencing investigations into Mr Shamenda’s allegations after taking into consideration the circumstances and the likelihood that such investigations would disclose facts that the Labour minister could have committed an offence under the Anti-Corruption Act.
He said in terms of section 39 (1) of the Anti-Corruption Act No 3 of 2012, public officers were particularly required to make a full report to the ACC or the police of any gratification corruptly given, promised or offered within 24 hours of the occurrence of the event.
“Failure to make a full report of gratification corruptly given, promised and offered within 24 hours of the occurrence of the event without reasonable cause amounts to an offence on the part of the public officer who is liable, upon conviction to a fine not exceeding two hundred thousand penalty units or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or both,” Mr Moono said. He explained that reasonable cause in failing to report bribe attempts and gratification given to a public officers could include the inability by the officers having no access to facilities to complete the exercise of reporting due to distance and other circumstances beyond the control of the whistle blower.
Mr Shamenda has come under serious criticism after publicly accusing a junior Dangote company official of attempting to bribe him but it has since been revealed that the Labour minister nullified the interviews because the people he had allegedly sponsored could not be considered because they were ill-qualified.