Zambian Prosecutors Arrest 18 Ministry of Finance Officials

When President Hakainde Hichilema was elected, he promised a sweeping crackdown on corruption. Instead, most Zambians have complained that it has been business as usual.

But this week’s news could change that.

Zambian authorities have arrested the country‘s auditor general and 17 others at the Ministry of Finance on charges of corruption and theft of public funds. The suspects allegedly benefited from $25 million in payments for fictitious activities.

Anti-Corruption Commission spokesperson Timothy Moono confirmed the arrests to reporters in Lusaka on Friday. He said the commission was not targeting any one person at the Finance Ministry.

“The commission has subsequently restricted several bank accounts held by individuals suspected to be involved in this saga as part of ongoing investigations,” Moono said.

The investigations stemmed from a special audit of the government’s financial management information system for the period from 2018 to 2021.

Cabinet Secretary Patrick Kangwa, in an earlier statement, said that “President Hakainde Hichilema has directed that the ongoing investigations must be conducted without any interference.”

Transparency International’s representative in Zambia, Sampa Kalunga, recently complained on a local radio station that the government’s anti-corruption program was “disjointed, archaic and does not show results.”

Others have complained that many investigations – including the attempted dismissal of the Director of Public Prosecutions, have been politically motivated.

Many previous arrests have ended in bail, with defendants denying the charges and investigations not resulting in any convictions.