TI-Z CLEARS THE AIR ON AUDITOR GENERAL ARREST AND CALLS FOR RESIGNATION
General

TI-Z CLEARS THE AIR ON AUDITOR GENERAL ARREST AND CALLS FOR RESIGNATION

TI-Z notes a significant misrepresentation of its statement on the Auditor General and therefore wishes to categorically correct the wrong impression created that we are against calls for the Auditor General to resign.
Firstly, it should be clear that we welcome the arrest of the Auditor General Dr Dick Sichembe by the Anti-Corruption Commission for alleged corrupt practices as we believe that there should be no sacred cows when it comes to the fight against corruption. The arrest of such a senior official within the government system certainly fits this narrative.
Secondly, we are confident that once Dr Sichembe’s trial commences, it will give him the opportunity to defend himself against the charges slapped on him, while also believing that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has done its due diligence in investigating this matter.
Considering his high standing and the critical importance of his office. We call upon Dr Sichembe to consider resigning to allow for a thorough and credible trial. This is purely on moral grounds as we are well aware that his office enjoys constitutional security of tenure. We note that our initial statement was misrepresented due to this technicality.
In this vein we would like to remind the media and the general public that the office of auditor general is not the same as that of a Minister.
TI-Z has indeed repeatedly called for the President to fire Ministers found wanting because it is within the President’s powers to do so, and also within his powers to reappoint them if cleared of all charges.
This action is not a declaration that the Minister suspected of corruption is guilty, but solely meant to facilitate for thorough investigations, without any interference.
In line with Article 18(2a) of our constitution, Dr Sichembe and indeed any other person, including ministers, enjoy the presumption of innocence until the contrary is proved, and should therefore not be treated as a guilty person.
TI-Z has also noted calls from some circles of society demanding that President Hichilema should remove Dr Sichembe from his position as Auditor General.
Though we believe that the Auditor General should resign on moral grounds, we wish to caution against a decision to fire him since such a knee-jerk reaction is clearly against our laws.
Our constitution is very clear about the procedure for removal of an Auditor General from office, which is the same as that of removing a High Court judge.
This means that it has to be proved that Dr Sichembe has a mental or physical disability that makes him fail to do his work, or that he is incompetent, or that he has committed gross misconduct, or has been declared bankrupt.
In the absence of any of those factors, there is no constitutional premise for the removal of Dr Sichembe, even if he will be on trial for alleged criminal offences.
This is the reason why we can only appeal to his morality and integrity to voluntarily step down. Our hope is that this matter will be allowed to go through the judicial process without any pressures or undue infleunces.
Maurice K. Nyambe
TI-Z Executive Director

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