Friday, August 28, 2009
Banda - Establishes Zero Tolerance Against Corruption Policy??
Banda Promising Reforms..
OK OK. It seems that almost as soon as LMG World TV asked the question in our last post - how will Banda respond to the Chiluba acquittal on all corruption charges - our question was answered. A mere 10 days after the controversial verdict, President Rupiah Banda yesterday announced the launch of a new national anti-corruption policy, hoping, no doubt, to erase doubts over his government's anti-graft credentials after former leader Frederick Chiluba was cleared of embezzlement.
Interestingly, after the verdict the head of Zambia's Task Force on Corruption, Max Nkole was fired and his appeal in the Chiluba case was withdrawn by prosecutors.
The resulting controversy has raised some doubts about whether Banda would continue the anti-corruption crackdown launched by the late president Levy Mwanawasa, which had won Zambia praise overseas and which we had also noted in the last post.
Some excerpts from news reports are quoted below:
Opposition parties have accused Banda of interfering in the courts to win Chiluba's acquittal on charges that he embezzled 500,000 US dollars of public money.
Banda said the new policy would reinforce government's commitment to eradicating graft and provide a framework for government agencies to cooperate with the public in investigations.
"We renew our resolve to uphold the motto of "Zero Tolerance Against Corruption". The war against corruption is the responsibility of everyone," Banda said.
"My government shall remain committed to the rule of law and respect for human rights," Banda said.
"Even as we fight corruption we should not lose sight of the constitutional rights of those accused," he added.
Banda credited the government's efforts in fighting corruption with helping fuel Zambia's record economic growth over the last decade.
"The government has over the last eight years implemented a wide range of reform measures to combat corruption, streamlined the management of public resources and enhanced service delivery," he said.
"The reforms had a positive effect on the economy until the onset of the global economic downturn," Banda said.
The top British aid official in Zambia, Mike Hammond, urged Banda to show commitment in the anti-corruption fight.
"If the government of Zambia is to build on the momentum of the past success, it must be seen to take action against those that do not abide by the rules, and no individual should be above the law," Hammond said.
Britain has given more than 13 million dollars since 2000 to support Zambia's anti-corruption agencies.
Chiluba contemplative in Court
Chiluba has accused Britain of masterminding his prosecution, saying the case was driven by "imperialists".