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Expeditious disposal of economic crimes

Chief Justice Mumba Malila says crimes of an economic nature deserve expeditious disposal because of their effect on the economy of the country.

“Criminal prosecution must be instituted against alleged wrongdoers who should be afforded a fair opportunity to answer to allegations against them. Crimes of an economic nature, especially, deserve expeditious disposal because of their effect on the economy of the country. In this connection, I am pleased to announce that administratively an Economic and Financial Crimes Court at the level of the Subordinate Court will soon be operational. It is designed to offer specialised, fast-track court services, and ensure that, all due process requirements being observed, illicitly obtained wealth is speedily recovered and restored to the public fiscus so as to enable the government channel the resources to build that essential road, pay that old village grandmother the social cash transfer money she so badly needs, repair that collapsed roof of the old school; and stock that public hospital with essential drugs,” says justice Malila. “Only last Friday, pursuant to the power entrusted in me by Article 133(3) of the Constitution and section 3(3) of the high court Act, I signed a Statutory Instrument that will establish the Economic and Financial Crimes Division of the High Court for purposes of handling appeals from its Subordinate Court sibling. This, I think, is patriotism. Yet I am convinced that it will call for even greater patriotism on the part of judicial officers and judges that will be assigned to work in these courts. I encourage you all, to link patriotism to the common good with the aim of responding to transgressions of the law in ways which ensure that everyone, or at least the greatest number of the Zambian people, benefit. We must all correlate patriotism with our own contribution to nation building.”

This is a noble act. We need to ensure all the illicitly obtained wealth is speedily recovered and restored to the public fiscus. This will not only dissuade would-be plunderers but restore sanity in both the public service and private sector. Plunderers have for decades made a mockery of our judicial system. And because there was no dedicated court to deal with these crimes, thieves have had an open season. Politicians especially have been treating corruption, fraud or plunder as a necessary means – a justifiable end to their career in public service. They have been enjoying their loot while arrogantly pouring scorn at the citizens they have impoverished. Plunderers have used their loot to advance their political careers and also to build dubious businesses. Government has for so long been a cash cow!

As noted by Harry Markopolos, “Government has coddled, accepted, and ignored white collar crime for too long. It is time the nation woke up and realised that it’s not the armed robbers or drug dealers who cause the most economic harm, it’s the white collar criminals living in the most expensive homes who have the most impressive resumes who harm us the most. They steal our pensions, bankrupt our companies, and destroy thousands of jobs, ruining countless lives.”

We hope this fast-track court – Economic and Financial Crimes Division – will pitilessly deal with crimes to bring to an end economic and financial impunity. The country has waited for this moment – for these radical reforms. It is time snakes are defanged, wolves are left without claws.

Every crime committed against the Republic merits punishment. That’s what justice entails.

G. Edward Griffin once said, “To oppose corruption in government is the highest obligation of patriotism.”

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