Kenyan professor of law Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba holds the view that corruption must be treated as a crime against humanity because the vice has killed more people in Africa than all the civil wars combined. We feel there are no better-placed citizens on the continent to share this view than the people of Zambia.
Today, we share the view of Professor Lumumba because we have been victims of crimes against humanity imposed by corruption and our lives are constantly in danger because of the role we have chosen to play in the fight against bad governance.
We have individuals in government who take their children to expensive schools using money that was corruptly acquired. They live in mansions that were corruptly acquired and drive luxury SUVs bought from proceeds of crime. When you attempt to stand in the way of this rampant corruption, they are going to kill you. They will ensure that you are neutralized. These are people that we are fighting against. These criminal elements in government care about nothing but their own enrichment. Their conscience is dead. They will do anything on earth to eliminate anyone who dares to close the lid on corruption.
Our politicians have wealth which a normal hardworking man cannot amass under their occupation even if they lived a thousand years on Earth, but impunity is alive and thriving in our nation. We, the electorate, are in the business of celebrating thieves. We camouflage theft by giving it fancy names like gifts, money laundering, fraud, embezzlement, and all other kinds of fancy terminologies that make theft look so glamorous. Let us call these men and women by their right names when they steal from the public coffers. They are thieves stealing on an industrial scale. They are murderers. Once we begin to call them by their appropriate names and they have the theft tag on their foreheads, the stigma will haunt them. Unfortunately, corruption is very attractive in Zambia right now because thieves are celebrated. They are treated like heroes.
What President Edgar Lungu and his accomplices have done to this country is so sad. But what is more devastating is seeing citizens among us who are still holding this leadership in very high esteem. The scandals in the PF government don’t even need any serious investigation; they are free flowing like a broken community tap, leaving a trail of filthy stagnation. When they attempt to defend themselves, they only succeed to fail. They don’t deny stealing, but they simply attempt to justify the theft.
“Without a doubt, corruption must be treated as a crime against humanity. Sometimes you have to raise issues to the highest appropriate level. You have to think about what corruption does to a country. The crisis in neighbouring Congo DR started with the rampant theft by Mobutu Sese Seko’s regime. To date, the former Zaire has never recovered. People had no medicines in hospitals and deaths among the underprivileged became unprecedented,” says Professor Lumumba.
Indeed, it is happening in our own country. Millions of dollars worth of HIV treatment drugs are being taken away from the poor, the few that are given out are expired. How many people die on our roads because of potholes, just because the line minister took away money that should have been used to make high standard roads? How are these not crimes against humanity? They are, and the punishment must be of the highest degree possible.
We are foolish as a country to be justifying theft with fancy interpretations in the name of strengthening economic ties. The truth is that Zambia’s biggest import is corruption. Sadly, the corrupt are our celebrities, we call them Honourables and Excellences. In Mainland China, embezzling disaster relief funds or refusing to hand over illicit funds attracts a death penalty, but we in Zambia are importing corruption from China on an industrial scale.
Zambia needs emergency rescue from the jaws of the animal in man. This unprecedented corruption cannot continue to be a song for social media. The people of Zambia need to stand up and preserve this land for future generations.
What our Church, Civil Society and the media must do is to recruit the population. When the public has been enlightened enough to understand, in the simplest terms, that corruption has killed more people than Malaria, HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis put together, that will be the beginning of success in the battle against the thieves in government.