We are surprised that the Bank of Zambia has taken issue with a story in which civil activist Brebner Changala called on relevant authorities to investigate the plunder and mismanagement of assets belonging to liquidated Access Financial Services.
This arose out of an important and certainly landmark Supreme Court judgment, which will be quoted for many, many years, to come in which the court clearly outlawed the use of privilege to conceal wrongdoing especially in important national institutions of which the Bank of Zambia is.
The court ruled that, “The gravity of the wrongful act of advising the Bank of Zambia to conceal evidence of mismanagement of the liquidation process of the respondent companies, overtook the principle of professional privilege.’’
The judgment went on to say that it would not be in the public interest to allow a public institution to purposely refrain from disciplining an officer because they do not want the officer to adduce evidence which would assist the respondents in proving the allegation in mismanagement of the liquidation process.
This judgment is not just about the case that was before the court. This judgment sets a major precedent that will apply to many other cases and institutions where privilege will be used to justify wrongdoing.
It is fair comment to ask the Ministry of Finance and the bank itself to explain how this situation arose in the first place
Zambians have a right to know why, for example, Mutembo Nchito who was the main prosecutor in the defunct and discredited Task Force on Corruption was also retained by the Bank of Zambia which was responsible for implementing the liquidation process and then finally the same Mutembo Nchito was representing the bank in seeking to suppress evidence of wrongdoing.
There is no doubt that the Bank of Zambia is a public institution and questions must be asked why it engaged itself in conduct that represented the epitome of conflict of interest. Was there a shortage of law firms that MNB or later Nchito and Nchito had to be lawyers representing the bank in a matter in which it sought to suppress evidence of wrongdoing?
This is not discussing the matter that is before the High Court regarding specific issues on the liquidation of Access Financial Services.
This is a matter in which the conduct of a public institution falls short of requisite moral, ethical and indeed legal justification.
What civil activist Brebner Changala has been asking is for an explanation how this situation came about. That the same company and individuals being paid by the Task Force were also being paid by the Bank of Zambia and indeed what could have gone wrong in this clearly compromised relationship.
This is far from being sub judice. This is about administrative decisions that were taken and sustained over a very, very long period of time in which the folly should have been detected and stopped to avoid the circumstances in which the Supreme Court has now been forced to declare itself on, the conduct related to legal profession.
We strongly believe that for good governance, rule of law and adherence to tenets of good management these issues must be discussed widely and publicly.
There should be no doubt in the minds of public officers that their conduct will come under scrutiny and that their folly will be exposed however sanctimonious their actions were.
That is why criminals who pronounced themselves against innocent people, persecuting them through courts of law, are now scared to go through the same processes they subjected their hapless victims to.