Transparency International Zambia president Rueben Lifuka says reshuffling Cabinet in the absence of a fundamental approach to fight corruption will not yield any results.
And Lifuka says newly appointed Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya must follow up on the Topstar digital migration deal and provide appropriate answers to Zambians.
Commenting on Cabinet reshuffles in response to a press query from News Diggers, Lifuka said what President Edgar Lungu needed to do was to provide radical short and medium term strategies for eradicating graft.
“Recently, President Edgar Lungu, used his prerogative to make reshuffles to his cabinet. We want to believe the President has his reasons for undertaking this exercise. However, from our perspective, it is of interest to us to assess whether these changes will advance the agenda for promoting integrity and transparency in the running of government. We are not fully convinced that merely moving Cabinet Ministers from one position to the other without a fundamental approach to say fighting corruption, will yield any position results.To use the President’s own analogy ‘a football coach who merely changes the positions of his under firing players and does not bring in tactical changes and is bound to be consigned to be a perennial loser’,” Lifuka stated.
“What is necessary is for President Lungu to articulate radical short and medium term strategies for eradicating graft in the public service and creating a public service anchored on strong values of professionalism, integrity, transparency and accountability. This requires all Cabinet Ministers to commit to adhering to strong ethical standards and to ensure that the public servants who work under them, execute their tasks professionally without any undue political interference. For President Lungu, he will be missing a great opportunity to address the scourge of corruption if he merely focuses on reshuffling personnel around, without inculcating a new approach in his team to dealing with pertinent issues like the rise in corruption.”
Lifuka charged that the country was making limited progress in the fight against corruption because leaders were still in denial that corruption exists.
“We can only make progress when we collectively agree that we have a problem which needs our concerted efforts to address it. The ambivalent statements coming from the Head of State, his Ministers and his party on the fight against corruption, do not help us move forward in this important task and we want to ask for clear, unequivocal statements on the serious steps that this government is taking to clean up the rot of corruption in this country. Today, the PF government can assuage their egos and pretend that corruption is not real and continue to hide behind the calls for evidence but one day the chickens will come home to roost; and there will be no place to hide. Action is needed in the fight against corruption- for far too long, our leaders have been sitting on the fence without taking decisive steps to rid our society of this vice,” he stated.
And Lifuka called on Siliya to earnestly follow up on the TopStar arrangement for the digital migration process and provide appropriate answers to the general public saying the answers provided by her predecessors were unsatisfactory and gave rise to suspicion about the whole transaction.
“In this year which the African leaders have declared as the ‘Year Against Corruption’, we want Zambia to be in the forefront in implementing game changing strategies against corruption. It is our expectation that the ministers who have moved portfolios will be committed to addressing all pending issues in their new deployments. In particular, we would like to urge the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services hon Dora Siliya, to earnestly follow up on the TopStar arrangement for the Digital Migration process and provide appropriate answers to the general public. So far the answers provided by the Ministry through her predecessors, remain unsatisfactory and gives rise to suspicion about the whole transaction,” Lifuka stated.
“We want clear answers on when the Digital Migration Policy was changed to allow one entity to provide both service provision and content provision? And why was Star Times single sourced and how comparative is this arrangement to what others like Multichoice Zambia proposed? We want to assure the Minister of Information that this is one matter which we will continue to follow keenly and we will take all necessary measures to ensure that answers are provided to all questions related to this transaction.”
Meanwhile, Lifuka expressed confidence that Siliya would address the governance crisis facing ZNBC due to lack of Board of Directors for the National Broadcaster.
He also asked Siliya bring about a new culture to the position of Chief Government Spokesperson, which he said had seemingly become a poisoned chalice.
“We equally want hon Siliya to address the governance structure of the Public broadcaster [ZNBC], we cannot understand why a substantive Board has not been appointed. It is time that Cabinet Ministers whose ministries have been cited in the Auditor General’s report, provide some comfort on the measures that they are taking to eradicate corruption in the public service. We would further like to urge the Minister of Information, as a journalist and seasoned politician, to bring about a new culture to the position of Chief Government’s spokesperson – which seems like a poisoned chalice. Hitherto, occupants of that position have gravitated towards propaganda instead of articulating public policy,” stated Lifuka.
“We want to believe hon Siliya is experienced enough to separate and leave partisan politics to the rank and file of the ruling party and focus on the business of government. It is evident that ministers serve all of us Zambians, including those who are not their supporters. But that is the nature of the beast and the Chief Government Spokesperson has to speak to all citizens regardless of their political affiliation. What we have seen in the recent past, is nearly a scandal and hon Siliya needs to restore confidence and help us citizens understand without any bias, some of the key decisions taken by the government.”