Kabwe central member of parliament Tutwa Ngulube says ACC must stop sleeping and dozing or risk being labeled a political organ.
And Roan PF member of parliament Chishimba Kambwili says the ACC must clean up corruption in government and investigate how someone made K21 million in one year.
Meanwhile, Kafue UPND member of parliament Mirriam Chonya says institutions which deal with law and order must put the interest of the people first rather than the interests of their appointing authorities.
Debating a motion to ratify Zachariah Phiri as ACC Director General and Cecilia Mbewe as Clerk of the National Assembly yesterday, Ngulube asked him to take the ACC back to the old days when it was a powerful institution.
“We want ACC to get back to its old golden days, where when ACC stands up, people will know that they will produce a report. Of late, Mr Speaker, ACC has been silent on a lot of issues. We do not know maybe it is because they did not have a Director General. We have also seen the trend where they are quick to announce the arrest of individuals and do not announce to the nation when people are acquitted. So we want the ACC to stand firm and to report to the nation what their findings are in most of these allegations. In the event that ACC does not prove to the nation that they are independent, this institution risks being labeled a political organ,” Ngulube said.
He also said the ACC should clear the air on the procurement of fire tenders instead leaving it to people who were not supposed to answer questions related to it.
“We have heard people alleging that there was corruption in the procurement of fire tenders, awarding contracts for the Ndola-Lusaka dual carriage way. We want the ACC to come out and clear the air. Because the people answering on behalf of ACC are non ACC people. So we leave it to ACC to answer those issues. People are coming to say the ACC cleared this deal when the ACC is dozing and sleeping, they are not telling the nation what their position is,” he said.
Ngulube said Phiri must be impartial in the discharge of his duties.
“Mr Speaker, it is important that those appointed to serve at the Anti Corruption Commission can bear in mind that that institution is not just for politicians. There is a perception in Zambia that people serving in government cannot be investigated. This is why Mr Zachariah Phiri has the mandate to prove that the ACC is independent. The Director General must prove that the ACC is impartial and does not dance to the tunes of politicians as it has been put in perception. It is very clear now that there are too many allegations of corruption against government and individuals,” said Ngulube.
And Kambwili told Phiri not to be afraid of politicians.
“I hope and trust the man we going to ratify today, we will ratify you, but I can tell you that I will be the first one to come after three years if you don’t do anything, to tell you that I wasted my vote. Do not be afraid of politicians. If I have stolen, I should be called a thief and corrupt. It is ACC that can give comfort to the people of Zambia. We do not want an Anti Corruption where you have to wait for people to leave office. Mr Zachariah, wherever you are, I know you are listening because this is of your interest. My brother, go and clean up this corruption where people can declare 2.5 million in 2015 at a portfolio, one year later, 2016 they declare 23 million. Ndiwe magician? Is that magic? Go and clean up corruption more especially in this current administration of government,” Kambwili said.
He said that ACC must not just be a ‘useless and toothless’ organization but be professional in their conduct.
“Let us be professional in the way we conduct ourselves and not to allow these institutions to be used by politicians to demean and insult others. It is very disappointing Mr Speaker, people are complaining that there was corruption in the procurement of the fire engines, the first people to say there was no corruption is the ACC. And then they go with a statement that ‘if people wants us to revisit we will revisit’. Automatically you are telling us, you are a useless, toothless organization because if you cleared, would you would not say ‘but if people want we can revisit’. Then you are automatically telling us that the report you are giving is not correct,” said Kambwili.
He however recommended Mbewe for the position of Clerk of the National Assembly saying she had exhibited quality leadership skills.
Meanwhile Chonya said institutions must outlive their individual interest and instead protect the interest of the people.
“Once these nominees are in their job, they must put the interest of Zambians first rather than the interest of their appointing authority. This is the only time in the history of Zambia that all institutions have come out compromised. An example is how the police is operating, how Constitutional Court is operating, Office of the DPP and indeed somebody said ‘even the National Assembly of Zambia is no longer doing an effective oversight role that they are supposed to play’. This, Mr Speaker, is very regrettable because these institutions are supposed to outlive our individual interest as stakeholders. Tomorrow when we leave office, we will need these offices to protect our interest and the general public as they are supposed to be,” said Chonya.
And contributing to the debate, Lupososhi member of parliament Chungu Bwalya said Phiri must ensure that ACC moves within the confines of the law and must not be weakened by the pressure and interferences of other parties.
“I want to believe that Mr Zachariah Phiri is going to use his usefulness and energy that he has to ensure that that institution is going to be moving within the confines of the law and within the aspirations of Zambians. Mr Phiri, you are being elevated to a position of no friend. This position is a very lonely position. It is true that not only will you get interference and pressure from all angles that will be asking you to deal with certain matters regarding corruption. It is true that corruption is a cancer that needs to be addressed so you must ensure that ACC is seen to be meaningfully,” said Bwalya.