Transparency International Zambia president Rueben Lifuka says it is unwise to demand evidence from whistleblowers who raise alarm on corruption.

Speaking during the commemoration of the International Anti-Corruption Day at Government Complex yesterday, Lifuka observed that one of the reasons corruption was thriving in Zambia was the absence of leadership.

“The fight against corruption requires strong leadership at all levels if we are to achieve any success. One of the reasons why society is slowing become more permissive of corruption than before, is that there is an absence of leadership. We are definitely glad that President Lungu is here today and this is a good beginning in this quest for strong leadership in the fight against corruption. We would like to see similar leadership in all other sectors of society. Strong leadership may require bold decisions being taken and we implore all leaders not to shy away from doing everything possible to rid our society of corruption. In dealing with corruption, there should be no sacred cows and all those that have issues with the law, should be investigated without any fear or favour,” Lifuka said.

He noted that instead of demanding evidence from whistleblowers, it was important to receive corruption allegations by accepting that a problem existed and by investigating leads.

“Bribery, political patronage, cronyism, electoral corruption, administrative corruption, money laundering, collusion, nepotism, peddling in influence grand corruption, all continue to be present in our nation and we need to find the triggers of success before this vice consumes us a people. We want to emphasise that progress in this fight will only be achieved if we accept that we have a problem. Denying or rationalizing the problem, and merely politicizing it, will not bring about the change we all desire and corruption will continue to be an impediment to sustainable development. We should stop this trend of denying we have a problem and a serious one for that matter,” he said.

“Yes, it is important that those that allege corruption, substantiate that with evidence if they have that, but such demands for evidence should not be the cause of inertia in doing something about the corruption risks that this country faces. It is definitely unwise for someone to ignore the caution of a neighbor who tells him that he saw what looks like a snake entering his house. You cannot start asking the neighbor – give me evidence that what you saw entering my house is a snake and not a big lizard. It is wise for such a person, even if he has little confidence in the neighbour’s mental faculties, to go and check his house for a snake or to assess if there are any openings where a snake can enter from. Surely, if you openly state to your neighbor that he is rubbish, careless and pedestrian and knows nothing about snake, a day will come when your neighbor will see a huge snake entering your house and he will keep quiet. Later that night, your neighbor will pretend to be fast asleep as you scream for help.”

Lifuka regretted government’s delay to table the Access to Information Bill which would be a boost in the fight against corruption.

He also urged citizens to join the fight against corruption by raising alarm whenever they witnessed suspicious activity.

“We want to urge the Zambian public to be engaged in the fight against corruption. This is not a fight for the government alone and in part, our past efforts have failed because we have abdicated our role as citizens to speak out and hold accountable those that are mandated to deal with this problem. It is our call on citizens to stand up and join the fight. The corrupt people live with us, and when these are known, we should expose and report them to the relevant authorities. As citizens, we should stop celebrating those that engage in such acts of corruption as heroes. Community involvement can be enhanced through and open and free media. We want to urge government to create an environment for the existence of a genuine, open and free media- one that is able to write and expose corruption wherever it occurs,” stated Lifuka.