PATRIOTS for Economic Progress president Sean Tembo has demanded that Drug Enforcement Commission director general Alita Mbahwe, if she has any ounce of integrity, immediately resigns from her post because “she is eating off the palm of the PF.”
Meanwhile, Tembo says those talking well of the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) must not end at eulogising its director general Mary Chirwa but do the same to the Centre’s Board of Directors headed by John Kasanga. On Friday, Mbahwe called a press briefing at her office in Lusaka where she said the 2018 FIC report, indicating that K6.1 billion has been laundered, should not have been published in the manner it has been (as raw data intelligence), cautioning that such compromises investigations by law enforcement agencies.
But Tembo, on Pan African radio’s News Feedback programme on Sunday evening, charged that Mbahwe opted to “publicly assassinate” the FIC because she is a “lapdog” of the governing PF.
“The only motivation that the Drug Enforcement Commission had for her (Mbahwe) to be compelled to convene a press briefing where she publicly assassinated the standing of the Financial Intelligence Centre is because she is compromised. For her, it was not enough for DEC to side with the PF and their corrupt elements,” Tembo said.
“But she had to go a step further to be seen to be fulfilling the wishes of her corrupt masters in PF by going on record and publicly condemning a fellow State institution. I need to take this opportunity to issue a demand to the director general of the Drug Enforcement Commission for her to immediately resign because her conduct is not only shameful but a recipe for anarchy in this country. If she has any ounce of integrity left in her, she must use it to resign because she is compromised as a PF member.”
He stressed that the Drug Enforcement Commission was a compromised institution.
“It is a lapdog of the Patriotic Front. It’s not an independent State institution, based on its conduct – based on the statement that it issued to publicly attack a fellow State institution in the name of the Financial Intelligence Centre,” he said.
“There are a lot of hardworking officers in the DEC but the head is definitely compromised. She is eating off the palm of the Patriotic Front; she is partisan in her actions. She is heading a very important investigative wing, very important law enforcement agency in this country and yet she is so blatantly biased, compromised to the extent that to her just being used as a lapdog of the Patriotic Front was not enough. [But] she had to go a step further and stand at the tallest anthill and condemn a fellow State institution!”
Tembo, an accountant, explained that the establishment of a financial intelligence centre in Zambia arose from the September 11, 2001 attacks, by Al Queda, a militant group, against the Twin Towers at the World Trade Centre in the United States.
“So, it was basically arising from that terrorist attack that a global movement said most of these terrorist activities are financed by illicit financial flows and so, we need to have a global system to monitor illicit financial flows; money laundering activities and related activities,” Tembo said.
“Each and every country in the world was required to be a party to these global regulations to monitor these illicit financial flows. That is how Zambia became a signatory. So, it is not something that was born out of our own desire as a nation to create a financial intelligence centre.”
He added that the establishment of the FIC in 2010 was compelled on Zambia and that the sanctions of not implementing such global regulations on money laundering, terrorist financing and other illicit financial flows could see the country be excluded from the international payment system.
“The international payment system is basically a system which allows commerce and trade to take place between Zambia and other countries. When you are buying a car from Japan, you make a payment via a Website or whatever; it has to go through the international financial payment system,” Tembo explained.
“So, if Zambia was suspended from this international financial payment system, it basically means that our economy will literally crumble. For starters, we’ll not even be able to sell our copper because we are not selling our copper internally. So, in other words, we are compelled to have the Financial Intelligence Centre [because] for us to have initiated the presentation of the FIC bill to Parliament, we were compelled by the international global regulations on terrorist financing and money laundering. We don’t have a choice, really!”
Tembo emphasised that every country in the world had a financial intelligence centre.
“Others call it something relatively different like financial intelligence authority or financial intelligence commission. But it serves the same purpose that our Financial Intelligence Centre in Zambia serves,” he explained.
Tembo also observed that most of the times when people were pouring accolades on the FIC, they tended to end at Chirwa as the Centre’s director general.
“But the reason Mary Chirwa is able to diligently discharge her duties is because she has a Board made up of individuals who are strong-willed and patriotic to this country,” he said.
“Without a strong Board to back up Mary Chirwa, she would be neither here nor there – she would not be able to stand firm in the face of all this adversity. That’s why I want to appeal to all people out there that whenever you want to talk well of the Financial Intelligence Centre, don’t just end at the director general. You should also recognise the efforts and sacrifices of the Board of Directors.”
Meanwhile, Tembo said the resignation of Amos Chanda, on June 6, as President Edgar Lungu’s press aide, is: “a none-factor.”
“It’s not something that is monumental, so to say. Amos was a civil servant and it is only that during the course of discharge of his duties, he had taken a very political inclination such that there was a misconception that Amos was actually a political figure when in fact not,” underscored Tembo.
“So, as far as we are concerned, Amos was just a civil servant and his resignation is neither here nor there; it is inconsequential, as it were.”