WE have been here before.
Almost 20 years ago President Levy Mwanawasa responding to a public clamour for vengeance and retribution on alleged mass corruption recruited and deployed a task force fully supported by the international community.
The target initially was 2nd Republican President Frederick Chiluba and all those who were seen to be his accomplices, including a former Finance minister, Katele Kalumba and several officials from the ministry.
The cases ended in dismal failure with Dr. Chiluba being acquitted and the State not supporting the conviction meted against Ministry of Finance officials.
We are in the same position today with the call for Fast Track courts to prosecute corruption. At face value, this sounds progressive but in reality it is a vote of no confidence in the current judiciary and attendant prosecution system.
We entirely agree with Rainbow Party Secretary-General Wynter Kabimba and former Defence minister George Mpombo that our law enforcement agencies should be totally revamped to make them more proactive in prosecuting cases in real time rather than wait to ingratiate themselves to an incoming government.
There are absolutely no complicated corruption cases that cannot be dealt with by either the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) or Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) or indeed police.
As a newspaper, we have previously documented many of these cases. We can boast of having unraveled the infamous 51 mysterious houses in Lusaka’s Chalala area which for months on end eluded the ACC, an institution that had officers both in the legal and prosecution section that would have taken on the matter to its logical conclusion.
Sadly, the matter is still active before the courts of law because of bungled prosecution which can be traced to a mishandled investigation.
If the Mwanawasa Task Force saga is anything to go by, the State lost more money than it ever recovered, but more importantly colossal fees paid to consultants, prosecutors and operators of the scheme consumed a substantial amount of the funding provided by the international community and government. This defeated the purpose.
Equally, money banked in offshore accounts have not yet been accounted for because the systems that served custodial functions were opaque and an audit of funds was full of qualifications that have yet to be explained.
It is our view that a serious reorganisation of DEC, ACC and Financial Intelligence Centre must be undertaken to recruit competent and untainted officers who will undertake unbiased professional investigations that must be put before our regular judicial system for regular adjudication.
No Zambian deserved to be prosecuted outside the constitution which provides procedures and punishment for various offences related to corruption, any irregularity or indeed abuse of authority.
We have enough laws in the country within the criminal procedure code, ACC, DEC and other institutions to prosecute wrongdoing without resorting to shortcuts that will ultimately disadvantage defendants who will be confronted with a hostile environment with pre-conceived notions and which will be baying for blood.
The rule of laws demands that every citizen is treated equally regardless of the offence, more so that some of those who may be making decisions in cabinet regarding this fasttrack system may have themselves benefitted from regular appearance in our normal courts of law.
Every Zambian deserves fair treatment.