“Unlike food whose intake is limited by the capacity of the stomach, the love for ornaments has no bounds”. Former President of Zambia Fredrick Chiluba was known for his Opulence and penchant for designer clothes and shoes inscribed with his initials. It is believed that in order to befriend an African leader it is essential to appeal to his vanity.
President Levy Mwanawasa succeeded Fredrick Chiluba as President of Zambia in January 2002 and led an anti-corruption drive preceded by legislative amendments that lifted immunity for former presidents from prosecution.
Chiluba was cleared of embezzling $ 500 000 during his 10 year presidency even though a civil court case in London had found that he misappropriated close to U$50 million dollars from Zambian state coffers to help fund his extravagant lifestyle.
Director of the Zambia Security Intelligence Service (ZSIS) Xavier Chungu was prosecuted for embezzling state funds and jailed for several months, released on bail, skipped bail and returned after 4 years, was arrested, had the charges amended and was acquitted of any wrong doing.
These events in Zambia have relevance to a case in which a Namibia Central Intelligence Service Officer Paulus Shilunga was found dead in an apparent suicide on the outskirts of Windhoek in his Toyota Land Cruiser.
Shilunga, who was on bail at the time, was facing charges that included fraud, money-laundering, theft and corruptly using his position for gratification.
Criminal investigations around the case involving fraud in the amount of N$ 17 million which is impossible to carry out by somebody acting alone have come to an end since the accused is no longer alive and dead men tell no tales.
The Namibia Central Intelligence Service (NCIS) is established in terms of the Namibian Constitution headed by a Director General who is appointed by the president.
The powers, duties and functions of the NCIS are to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the actions of the service are limited to what is necessary for the proper performance of its function. Although the service is meant to function above board, Act 10 of 1997 governing the functions of the service permits leeway for embezzlement in that the service is not limited to funding appropriated by law but can accrue funding from any other source and derive interest from the investments of such monies.(e.g. fishing quotas)
Preventative measures to safeguard against the possibility of the intelligence service going rogue are subject to the provisions of the State Finance Act 31 of 1991 whereby the services accounts are subject to auditing by the auditor- general.
By befriending the head of the Zambia Intelligence Service, President Chiluba took advantage of the secret environment within which the intelligence community operates that enabled the theft, corruption and plunder of Zambian resources that incensed his successor Mwanawasa so much he influenced parliament to amend the law guaranteeing immunity of a former president from prosecution, opening the path to investigations into the “privatization of copper mining interests, deals for arms that never arrived and finances for security projects which were diverted to Chiluba’s family”.
In terms of section 6 of the Act governing the powers, duties and functions of the Director General (D.G.) of the NCIS, the D.G is to ensure that “no act is performed that could give rise to any reasonable suspicion that the service is concerned in furthering, protecting or undermining the interests of any particular section of the population or organization in Namibia”.
It is always advisable not to cast aspersions on matters that cannot be proven, however in a functioning democracy with limited resources and limited access to resources it is necessary to ask the most terrifying and frightening questions regarding who watches those tasked with watching and ensuring the security of the countries citizens.
With regard to Shilunga, there are more questions than answers and since dead men tell no tales the public is left pondering whether the principles of accountability and transparency are mere slogans used by elected officials to pacify citizens or an inquest into the death and events leading to the death of Shilunga will be opened to afford the countries citizens an opportunity to gain closure regarding this tragic event.
Or perhaps it is in the best interest of national security that citizens look the other way and not ponder at all?
Vitalio Angula is a socio-political commentator and independent columnist.