Former Attorney General Musa Mwenye says late president Michael Sata kept everyone on their toes as he fought corruption because living a lavish lifestyle could get one fired.
And Mwenye says the fight against corruption must also be extended to those in the inner circle for it to be meaningful.
In an article shared on his Facebook page yesterday, Mwenye recalled that Sata had made some positive strides in the fight against corruption during his short stay in office.
“Late President Michael Sata’s stay in office was very short but in that short period, I saw some concrete steps in the fight against corruption. In the first instance, even if some may argue that it was merely rhetoric, he spoke against the vice publicly at every opportunity he had. I joined the Government in December 2011 and by 2012 the Anti Corruption Act 2012 was enacted to reintroduce the abuse of authority offense that had been removed from the law by the previous Government. Shortly thereafter, the Financial Intelligence Centre was made operational and it appears that there was a deliberate effort to appoint individuals who had a track record of standing firm on principle against Government into key institutions. The tenure of the office of Director General of the Anti Corruption Commission was strengthened entrenching the security of tenure of the Director General who could only be removed by Parliament,” Mwenye narrated.
“Some serving Ministers, who were close to the President were fired on allegations of corruption and were subjected to investigation and prosecution. At least one Minister was actually convicted for corrupt activities. One permanent secretary was fired for accepting to be flown to a mine by a mining company while a State house aide also lost his job for allegedly receiving money from someone in order to arrange a meeting with President Sata.”
He stated that civil servants were very careful not to flash lavish lifestyles during Sata’s time.
“All of us were on our toes and a lavish lifestyle could get you fired, as one Permanent Secretary who threw a lavish party found out. Other officials met a similar fate. One time, the Chairman of a large mining company came to Zambia for a meeting with the President. He entered the President’s office with a large hamper loaded with gifts, late President Sata, in his usual brush way, told this gentleman that he didn’t need his gifts because the Zambian people took care of him. The meeting was immediately cancelled and the gentleman was asked to walk out with his gifts and to arrange for a fresh meeting. Clear signals were sent,” Mwenye stated.
Mwenye attributed the strengthening of the economy under late president Levy Mwanawasa to his adamant approach on the fight against corruption.
“We must say it and say it very clearly, corruption is a cancer and it is destroying African economies. The fight against corruption is a non partisan issue and if done sincerely and impartially, it is an indispensable tool for the development of our countries. A 2005 study, estimated that the Global cost of ‘bribery’ alone (not including other forms of corruption), was 2% of world GDP. When we add other forms of corruption, the cost is much higher. The remarkable economic growth of countries such as Singapore under Lee Kuan Yew, South Korea under General Pak, Malaysia under Mahathir Bin Mohamad or even our fellow Africans in Rwanda under President Paul Kagame, shows that fighting the vice of corruption helps economic growth. The opposite is also true. Where corruption increases, economic failure follows because the economic interests of the corrupt are always against the public and country’s interests,” Mwenye stated.
“The late President Mwanawasa MHSRIP had a lot of foresight when he made a very resolute stand against corruption that saw some of his closest allies and friends investigated, prosecuted and in some instances convicted. Although I am sure there are a lot of other factors that contributed to the very strong economic showing under him, I have no doubt that making the fight against corruption part of his economic strategy helped.”
And Mwenye concluded that the fight against corruption should not only be targeted against political opponents but be extended to the inner circle.
“Corruption can not be fought through cosmetic window dressing measures. It has to be fought by tangible measures that start from those who are powerful. For those in power, corruption should not only be fought when it is targeted against political opponents. And for those in opposition, corruption must not only be condemned when allegations are made against political opponents. We must fight corruption and condemn it even when it affects those in our inner circle – the fight against corruption is not a bludgeoning weapon to hit political opponents with. It is serious But business that affects the lives of the poor people who will go without services because someone has decided to line their pockets with poor peoples money,” stated Mwenye.