The controversial release of the the Financial Intelligence Centre’s 2018 Trends Report has continued to be a subject of debate among our chattering political classes – especially with regard to speed with which it was embraced, adopted, and weaponised as a propaganda lever by opposition figures such as Hakainde Hichilema and Chishimba Kambwili.
Is everything really as clear as it seems, or was there something manufactured and strategically prepared with this sudden ‘leak?’
Probably the most alarming development since the FIC incident has been the emergence of a small but clearly non-organic social media campaign called “Yellow Card Against Corruption” founded by the UPND activist Ms. Laura Miti and the musician Mr. Fumba Chama, alias PilAto, The Yellow Card people not only are aiming to stir up public anger over the FIC report, but they also appear to clearly misunderstand the entire purpose of that institution and the meaning of the Trends Report itself.
First, let us be abundantly clear about this matter: corruption in Zambia is an intolerable scourge. Of course we must stamp out, and indeed, the Trends Report contains a number of allegations that deserve urgent attention.
But here’s the problem with politicisation of leaks like these: those calling for mob justice and breaking down in faux histrionics over their demands for blood are essentially calling upon the Republic of Zambia to abandon the rule of law, due process, and the basic presumption of innocence to jail people just because they say so, not because a court actually found a case to answer.
Now bear with me for a moment, because this is where things get hard, especially for those convinced that the FIC document is some kind of gospel truth.
What if there were a situation in which a corruption allegation did not happen to be true? What if there were individuals motivated, potentially for political reasons, to place false accusations against others in an effort to damage them personally, financially, and politically – with those accusations based on no tangible evidence? Should their targets – on any side of any political partires – not be afforded a defence?
Zambia would be indeed be a very terrifying country if this were the case. I would not say that we are a country without problems – we have many of them. But I would say that comparatively I am proud of our courts system because even under pressure from powerful forces, we can still see justice and rule of law prevail.
That’s why I think we need to all hold up a very strong RED CARD against the Yellow Card movement, because they are attempting to confuse the public with regard to the meaning of the Trends Report.
As the investigative body has done no less than four times before, the FIC distributed its Trends Report to relevant law enforcement agencies at least 80 separate reports that detail an assortment of information and rumours collected about a wide range of possible – but not proven – suspected illicit financial activities.
By comparison, this is nothing close to the Mueller Report in the United States, nor is the FIC even as rigorously detailed as the so-called ‘Steele Dossier’ which detailed so many theories that were eventually proven true about President Donald Trump.
The FIC Trends Report is intended as guidance for the relevant law enforcement agencies to pursue due diligence investigations, to corroborate what may be true and strike off what is disproven. This is part of a little something called due process, that apparently the Yellow Card campaign is firmly against.
The formal purpose of the FIC according to the law that established the entity is to inform the relevant law enforcement and justice institutions of the nation to prosecute suspected crimes and misdeeds. Like the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC), the Financial Intelligence Centre is a critical instrument of the government’s institutional means of combating illicit activity.
By weaponizing the 2018 report, people like Mr. Hichilema and Mr. Kambwili and their agents on social media are sabotaging not only the integrity of the FIC, but are also encouraging the violation of constitutional rights afforded to persons suspected of criminal activity.
Furthermore, it simply does not seem logical for someone like HH to encourage the abandonment of due process and the presumption and the presumption of innocence – especially for someone who is proven on paper to have founded a joint company with the then-CEO of the Zambia Privatisation Agency at the same time he was employed as a consultant to the agency advising on transactions where he financially benefitted. That alone, for example, is much stronger evidence that anything I’ve read in the FIC report.
So Ms. Miti, Mr. PilAto, Mr. Hichilema, Mr. Kambwili – the law-abiding people of Zambia hereby present you with a RED CARD. Time to leave the pitch and sit this match out.