SANAC executive director Gregory Chifire says President Edgar Lungu should never wait for donors to raise a red flag before he acts because Zambians are looking to him to take a leading role in the fight against corruption.
And Chifire says in order to retain confidence in Zambians, the PF government must endeavour to adopt a zero tolerance approach towards corruption.
Last week, President Lungu suspended Ministry of General Education Permanent Secretary Henry Tukombe to allow for smooth investigations into theft of donor aid at the ministry, as reported by the Auditor General.
And the President recently fired Community Development Minister Emerine Kabanshi, just days after British High Commissioner Fergus Cochrane-Dyet revealed that his government had frozen all bilateral aid to Zambia as a result of rampant corruption and fraud in government institutions.
In a statement issued, Tuesday, Chifire stated that his organization was following with keen interest, the development at the Ministry of General Education regarding the suspension of Tukombe and other members of staff.
He urged investigative wings to re-interview the suspended members of staff arguing that some of the witness statements obtained earlier may not reflect the true picture of what obtained as they may have testified under influence from their superiors.
“The Southern Africa Network Against Corruption (SANAC) is following with keen interest the development at the Ministry of General Education regarding the suspension of the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Henry Tukombe and other members of staff for the purpose of perving way for investigations in connection with misappropriation of donor money,” he stated.
“Now that the Permanent Secretary has been suspended, SANAC wishes to request the Investigative wings to re-interview the suspended members of staff because some of the witness statements obtained from suspended members of staff may not reflect the true picture of what obtained as some of them testified under undue influence from the superiors.”
And Chifire further urged President Lungu to never wait for donors to raise a red flag before he could act against corruption.
“The suspension of the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education is the second case of disciplinary measures instituted by the President in connection with theft of donor money involving high ranked government officials within a space of one month. The other case being that of former Minister of Community Development, Emerine Kabanshi regarding the misappropriation of Social Cash transfer money,” he stated.
“The people of Zambia are looking to the head of State to take a leading role in the fight against graft so as to arrest the evil vice that has not only contributed to untold suffering among our people but has also led to the erosion of donor confidence and the tarnishing of Zambia’s good image in the sight of the outside world. In as much as we appreciate the action taken by the President on the two, I bet under pressure from donors, we are of the view that the President must never wait for donors to raise a red flag before he acts.”
Meanwhile Chifire noted that the fight against corruption needed to be a conscious action as opposed to being impulsive.
He added that in order to retain confidence in Zambians, the PF government needed to endeavour to adopt a zero tolerance approach towards corruption.
“In order to retain public confidence in the war against corruption, President Lungu and the PF administration must endeavour to adopt a zero tolerance [approach] to corruption. The Public perception on President’s Lungu’s fight against corruption is not so charitable. There is need for this government to do more,” stated Chifire.