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Zambia - Corruption

Zambia has made some progress in the fight against corruption in the last decade, as reflected by improvements recorded in several governance indicators. In recent years, corruption has again emerged as a main impediment to governance and development programs. The legal and institutional frameworks against corruption have been strengthened, and efforts have been made to reduce red tape and streamline bureaucratic procedures, as well as to investigate and prosecute corruption cases, including those involving high-ranking officials.

In spite of progress made, corruption remains a serious issue in Zambia, affecting the lives of ordinary citizens and their access to public services. Corruption in the police emerges as an area of particular concern (with frequency of bribery well above that found in any other sector), followed by corruption in the education and health services. The government in November 2015 also cited corruption in public procurements and contracting procedures as major areas of concern.

The Anti-Corruption Act of 2010 and the National Anti-Corruption Policy of 2009, which stipulate penalties for different offenses, govern Zambia’s anti-corruption activities. The laws extend to political parties and to family members of officials. While legislation and stated policies on anti-corruption are adequate, implementation sometimes falls short. Zambia lacks adequate laws on whistleblower protection, asset disclosure, evidence, and freedom of information.

The government encourages private companies to establish internal codes of conduct that prohibit bribery of public officials. Most large private companies have internal controls, ethics, and compliance programs to detect and prevent bribery. The Integrity Committees (ICs) Initiative is one of the strategies of the National Anti-Corruption Policy (NACP), which is aimed at institutionalizing the prevention of corruption. The NACP was approved in March 2009 and the Anti-Corruption Commission spearheads its implementation. Eight institutions were targeted, including the Zambia Revenue Authority, Immigration Department, and Ministry of Lands. The government has taken measures to enhance protection of whistleblowers and witnesses with the enactment of the Public Disclosure Act as well as strengthen protection of citizens against false reports in line with Article 32 of the UN Convention.

After more than three years of deliberation, in 2009 the Zambian Cabinet approved a diluted national anti-corruption policy, which identified the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) as the lead anti-corruption agency, calls for enhanced national coordination between law enforcement agencies, recommends improved anti-corruption legislation (including asset forfeiture, asset disclosure, and whistleblower protection laws), and required the domestication of international protocols on corruption. Some expected the long-overdue policy to improve the operational effectiveness of the ACC, an institution that had previously been criticized for its lack of independence and efficiency. Western diplomats were dubious, as the policy was approved without the implementation strategy that had accompanied previous drafts.

Zambian courts found former Lands Minister Gladys Nyirongo guilty on two counts of corruption. Nyirongo, who was sentenced to four years imprisonment for illegally allocating land to herself and friends, has appealed the case to the High Court. During the first quarter of 2009, the ACC secured six other convictions, including Air Force Commander Emmanuel Singogo. The cases mark an important achievement for the ACC, which has been constrained by inadequate resources.

During this same period, the Zambian Government (GRZ) made other notable progress through the Task Force on Corruption (TFC), an ad hoc body that former President Mwanawasa established to prosecute high-level corruption during 1991-2001. The TFC convicted former First Lady Regina Chiluba, former Army Commander Geojago Musengule, former Air Force Commander Sande Kayumba, former Air Force Chief of Logistics Andrew Nyirongo, and businessman Amon Sibande. Although these cases represent important milestones in the government's anti-corruption campaign, all of the convicted were free on bail, having appealed their cases to the High Court. Their easily-obtained appeals may drag on for years, delaying further what has already been a lengthy litigation process, and providing little deterrence to other would-be offenders.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has the mandate to spearhead the fight against corruption in Zambia. The Anti-Money Laundering Unit of the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) also assists with investigation of allegations of misconduct. An independent Financial Intelligence Commission (FIC) was formed in 2010, but has not yet developed the capacity to take the lead in investigating financial crimes; DEC still carries out this function. Zambia’s anti-corruption agencies generally do not discriminate between local and foreign investors. Transparency International has an active Zambian chapter.

U.S. firms and the Zambian government have identified corruption as an obstacle to foreign direct investment. Corruption is most pervasive in government procurement and dispute settlement. Giving or accepting a bribe by a private, public or foreign official is a criminal act, and a person convicted of doing so is liable to a fine or a prison term not exceeding five years. A bribe by a local company or individual to a foreign official is a criminal act and punishable under the laws of Zambia. A local company cannot deduct a bribe to a foreign official from taxes. Bribery and kickbacks, however, remain rampant and difficult to police, given government officials’ complicity in or benefits from corrupt deals.

Zambia signed and ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption in December 2007. Other regional anti-corruption initiatives are the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Protocol against Corruption, ratified on July 8, 2003, and the African Union (AU) Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, ratified on March 30, 2007. Zambia is not a party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, but Zambia is a party to the Anticorruption Convention.

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