Do Not Shield Anyone – Archbishop Mpundu



By Ernest Chanda

EMERITUS Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu says the transparency those in government espouse is just talk without action.

Recently, activist Brebner Changala appealed to President Hakainde Hichilema to free investigative wings from his direct control.

On September 24, 2021, then secretary to cabinet Dr Simon Miti signed gazette notice number 1123 which, among other things, put the Anti-Corruption Commission, Drug Enforcement Commission, and the Anti-Financial and Economic Crimes Commission under direct control of the President.

The same gazette also placed the Electoral Commission of Zambia and Parliamentary Service Commission, among others, under direct control of the Vice-President.

Reflecting on the gazette 18 months down the line, Changala felt that the presidency has had a negative influence on the operations of these institutions.

“I earnestly appeal to President Hakainde Hichilema to degazette Gazette Notice 1123 of September 2021 when he assumed power. This is a gazette notice which moved law enforcement and many agencies like ACC, DEC, Financial Intelligence Centre, the Public Protector, the Human Rights Commission, etcetera etcetera, to his office. The same gazette notice 1123 moved the Electoral Commission of Zambia to the office of the Vice-President. And yet the Electoral Commission of Zambia is supposed to be independent to minimise electoral disputes, electoral violence, electoral challenges in which we must have a credible Electoral Commission of Zambia,” said Changala. “For the sake of transparency and for the sake of our constitutional democracy, the President must detach the Anti-Corruption Commission from his office. He cannot be the arresting officer, the judge and the jury in his own court. As we all know, the Executive and most importantly the President, is a potential suspect; they’re potential clients of DEC. The Executive is a potential client of ACC. The presidency or the Executive, they’re potential clients of the Public Protector. And for that simple reason, suspects cannot superintend institutions that are supposed to manage or indeed investigate their transgressions. It is only fair that the President degazettes the gazette notice 1123, September 2021.

The gazette notice is unconstitutional and invalid.”

Adding his voice to the call, Archbishop Mpundu said the presidency should show the way to transparency.

“You know, when you’re talking about transparency, accountability you’re talking of watchdog institutions. Watchdog institutions must be left free. And when we are talking about investigation, no one should be above the law. That is not just administrative, it is also the law of Zambia. And those should show us the way forward. People in government at the very top are the ones to show us how to be accountable, how to be transparent,” he said. “They should show the people, especially the young generation, that they are transparent. They have nothing to hide. We have been talking about transparency, accountability, and the rule of law but then it is just talk without action. We want this to be out in action. The administration must show the way, otherwise people will be saying ‘you’re telling us to be transparent but your own institution is shielded’. People finding out whether they’re transparent or not, no, Mr Changala is spot on. Watchdog institutions must not be put under the presidency and under parliament; no, no, no, no! All who are there must also be accountable.”

He said having watchdog institutions under the President’s direct supervision amounts to joining wrongdoing.

Archbishop Mpundu agreed with Changala’s plea for President Hichilema to free the Anti-Corruption Commission and Drug Enforcement Commission.

“But if you have all those watchdog institutions under the presidency there’s no accountability, no transparency. It is simply joining them in doing what is wrong, choosing what to say right from the beginning, if there’s something that you think that we as an Executive need to be probed we’re open books, come and see,” Archbishop Mpundu said. “But if some are shielded from investigations, it is a joke. Those people should not be shielded. What are they hiding? They should say ‘walk in, here I am, here are my books, here is my operation. I am there to follow the law for the people of Zambia, to be accountable’. So, Mr Changala is spot on.”

He called for equal treatment of people, adding that no one should be treated in a special way.

Archbishop Mpundu argued that development has stunted because those in leadership feel like they are above the law.

“There’s nothing like some animals are more equal than others. No way! All animals are equal. This is what we want this administration to show. All animals are equal, there are no animals that are more equal than others especially when it comes to accountability, transparency and to be truthful. This is what this country has been missing. Development has stunted because people who are put in charge of the wealth of the country, they’re above the law. They do what they want,” said Archbishop Mpundu. “We’re going nowhere. No one should be shielded from investigative institutions. No one. They should find a way whereby that institution (presidency) is also brought under glare. Those institutions which are watchdog institutions must be left free to act without fear or favour, without looking behind them at someone who’s trying to hit them. How can they do that work? In a class of young people in secondary school, primary school, you have a prefect. And then that prefect is not given any authority at all, then what kind of prefect is that? It is a joke. They want some people to be protected? It is a very sad joke because it is dealing with the state of the nation. And people must be made to understand and to trust those institutions. The only way that these institutions can be trusted is when they open up and they say ‘please come and see. We are getting wrong, we are ready to be punished’; that is true transparency.”


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