GOOD governance activist Brebner Changala says fast-track courts are needed urgently in the country.
Welcoming President Hakainde Hichilema’s pronouncement in Parliament last Friday that his administration would introduce fast-track courts to deal with corruption and other economic crimes, Changala said such facilities are needed “like yesterday”.
“The President means well. This fast-track court is needed like yesterday. Zambia is coming out of PF administration whose corruption became their identity and DNA. Zambia has lost a lot of money by the elite through dubious contracts, over-priced contracts and through sheer criminality,” he told The Mast in an interview. “And HH has come like a mop to clean this country. And such measures where he’s introducing the fast-track courts are most welcome.”
Changala however advised the Head of State to operationalise the office of Public Protector which, in his words, PF had abandoned.
“But most importantly, I expected him to tell the nation that he will urgently operationalise the Office of the Public Protector which has been moribund from the day it was created. And it was done purely for convenience’s sake so that these criminals in the previous administration are not made to account,” Changala added. “The Office of the Public Protector will protect Hakainde’s integrity and it will also show firm commitment to the fight against administrative mismanagement of our resources and the rule of law. That office will be an anchor and beacon to guide this new administration.”
He also advised the President to make the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) more independent.
Changala said the two institutions should have boards reporting to a parliamentary committee.
“Whereas he has the fast-track court, he must also allow the Public Protector to function under his administration. It is going to show us a lot of confidence,” he stressed. “Secondly, he must up the law that the Anti-Corruption Commission must report to a board and which board must report to the parliamentary select committee. The DEC must have a board which board must report to Parliament.”
And Changala advised that the public media be made to report to a parliamentary committee as well.
He said this would enhance its independence as opposed to the current scenario.
Under the current arrangement, the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation, Times of Zambia, and Zambia Daily Mail have boards appointed by a minister.
“And the public media must be managed by the board whose board must report to Parliament. And when he puts this in place, he will find and see that the fight against corruption will be as easy as his historical landmark victory against an evil and repugnant system that we have just chased away. He must build confidence; he must shame the doomsayers,” said Changala. “So, his focus must be on the Anti-Corruption Commission, the DEC, the Police and the sanctity of the media, both the private and the public media. But most importantly, the public media which has slowly started drifting into the positive towards the service of the public as they are a public media. So, once he moves in that direction, coupled with his own pronouncements, he will be sitting pretty and he will secure another mandate without much challenge.”