African Parliamentary Network against Corruption chairperson Cornelius Mweetwa says traffic police officers are only imitating what their bosses are doing.
Last week, Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo ambushed some traffic police officers who had mounted an illegal road block along Mungwi road.
Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja then immediately suspended four officers who were involved, pending investigations.
But in an interview, Mweetwa said the incident was a reminder that the whole system was rotten.
“It is a damming indictment of the failure of the system. And actually, it is a reminder that the whole government is rotten and when you see police do what they are doing, it means they are aware that their bosses are also corrupt. The same way Honourable Lusambo did, even civil servants who see their bosses who are involved in corruption, they should also be able to report. It should not be one way. It should be either way,” Mweetwa said.
Mweetwa, however, commended Lusambo for showing some political will in fighting corruption.
“It is commendable to have leaders who can take a public stance against corruption the way Honourable Lusambo did. I think that he is a second minister after the Honourable Minister for Muchinga Malozo Sichone who did the same a few years ago and is still worthy my commendations as well because he is a member of APNAC. And he exemplified that that time the value upon which APNAC is founded and is driving upon that is to strive towards a corruption free Zambia. He took a step as a member of parliament in the reduction of corruption related activities and to act as a role model to provide leadership of morality where you act as a role model in the fight against corruption,” Mweetwa said.
“So I think that Honourable Lusambo as a member of parliament has exemplified what we parliamentarians in APNAC stand for. Therefore, with what he did, I think that I would like to extend a call to other ministers and members of parliament who see acts of corruption on our roads by traffic police and who also see corruption in their offices to take it personal the same way Honourable Lusambo did. I know there was a bit of comedy that was associated with Honourable Lusambo’s act but to a certain degree, I think it is fair to state that it demonstrated political will to stamp out corruption. I know that some people have actually accused Honourable Lusambo that he stage-managed that exercise but that is not a view that I hold myself. For all intent or purposes, I think that that exercise that day did send a signal that there are leaders who can stand up against corruption.”
Mweetwa, who is also UPND deputy spokesperson, implored other leaders to take the same stance and wipe out corruption.
“So these leaders now should be many including members of parliament in our constituencies. Sometimes we are able to tell that this road block is illegal, that at that road block the police are receiving money without giving receipts. Every member of parliament has an equal authority and indeed like any other citizen of this country to find a way to ensure that we bring corruption to an end including taking it personal to demand for receipts when you pay for a traffic offence,” Mweetwa advised.
Meanwhile, Mweetwa said there was need for the Anti-Corruption Commission to also sensitize the police and help them understand that as law enforcers, they were not expected to be in the fore front of corruption.
“But before I actually throw salvos at Honourable [Stephen] Kampyongo, I think that Honourable Kampyomgo is a policy maker and Honourable Kampyongo stays in an office and Honourable Kampyongo does not go to enforce the law. The people who enforce the law are police and Anti-Corruption in respect of corruption for instance, and other relevant wings of government. Before Bowman Lusambo goes to stage up such kind of an exercise or indeed any other member of parliament or Honourable Kampyongo, one expects that since the Transparency International’s Index, year in-year out finds that the police as a government department being the number one corrupt, we expected the Anti-Corruption Commission to engage the police not by way of going to stage up issues of arresting officers but to engage the police in some form of education, so that the police can understand that as law enforcement agencies, they cannot be the ones to be found in the fore front as corrupt number one. It is a big embarrassment to the police high command,” said Mweetwa.