President Hakainde Hichilema has emphasized the necessity of combining prosecution with asset recovery in the ongoing fight against corruption in Zambia.

Speaking at the launch of the National Policy on Anti-Corruption (NPAC) at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka, President Hichilema underscored his administration’s unwavering commitment to tackling corruption to ensure that the nation’s resources benefit all citizens.

During his address, President Hichilema called on the judiciary to impose appropriate and stringent sentences on those found guilty of corruption.

He said a balanced approach is needed and highlighted the importance of legal measures such as fast-track courts, asset recovery, and forfeiture laws are employed to reclaim embezzled resources to deter future misconduct.

“The fight against corruption requires a clear, succinct, and holistic policy to strategically curb this negative vice. We must ensure that those who steal from the public face the full consequences of their actions. Corruption is akin to theft, and we must all be involved in stamping it out. Misunderstandings arise when minor thefts receive harsher sentences than those stealing millions from the government,” he said.

The President reassured the public that the government is not relaxing in its anti-corruption efforts, addressing concerns on social and mainstream media about the perceived leniency.

“We are fighting past, present, and future corruption. Those arrested and convicted must understand that they committed these crimes individually and should not cry victim of political persecution,” he said.

President Hichilema said the NPAC aims to achieve a vision of “A Nation with Zero Tolerance to Corruption,” urging the public to actively participate in this fight by utilizing platforms such as the ACC’s Online Anonymous Whistleblower System.

He said the policy is expected to bolster the financial, human resource, and technical capacities of anti-corruption authorities, ensuring a robust and coordinated approach to eliminating corruption.

“Let us join hands and fight corruption, regardless of who is involved. The corrupt often seek sympathy by portraying themselves as victims, but we must remain firm and deal with these matters decisively.” “Society will develop when we respect rightful ownership and support legal businesses,” President Hichilema concluded.

And Justice Minister Hon. Mulambo Haimbe echoed the President’s sentiments, stating that the NPAC’s launch is a clear demonstration of the government’s dedication to eradicating corruption.

He noted that the policy aims to reinforce the capabilities of the authorities involved in the fight against corruption, ensuring coordinated implementation of comprehensive policy reforms.

Meanwhile, Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Director General Thom Shamakamba disclosed that the new policy strengthens transparency and accountability in public affairs and the delivery of public services.

He highlighted that the measures already put in place have led to the recovery of numerous properties and will continue to do so.

Also speaking at the same event, Transparency International Zambia Chapter President Priscilla Chansa applauded Governments efforts in the fight against corruption as shown in the 2023 Corruption Perception Index CPI were the country recorded an improvement of 4 basis points.

“There have been some important steps taken by the Government which we believe will help to enhance the anti-corruption fight. These are the increased budgetary support to the ACC, the establishment of the Economic and Financial Crimes Court, and other legislative reforms. All these efforts have been critical as they send a positive message to law enforcement agencies that they have Government’s support in fighting corruption. In addition to this, the 2023 Corruption Perceptions Index released by Transparency International at the start of this year indicates that Zambia has improved its score by four (4) points, which is a clear indication that we are doing something right as a country when it comes to the fight against corruption, although more needs to be done,” she said.

In addition to government officials, the launch was attended by various stakeholders, including the Ministry of Justice, Chandler Foundation, Cabinet Office, British High Commission, GiZ, Swedish Embassy, EU in Zambia, the Judiciary, and the media. These entities, along with state and non-state institutions, are integral to the collaborative effort required to combat corruption effectively.

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