Information Minister Dora Siliya says Zambians have become too obsessed with corruption as if it is peculiar to this country.
And Siliya says Zambians are lucky because they have laws that work well.
Meanwhile, Siliya says government appreciates counsel from its cooperating partners regarding the fight against corruption but there are channels through which to discuss such issues.
Meanwhile, Siliya says government has put its full weight behind the appointment of Dr Simon Miti as the new Secretary to Cabinet and wish him all the best as he executes his new position in government.
Speaking when she addressed a press briefing at her in office in Lusaka, Thursday, Siliya, who is also Chief Government Spokesperson, wondered why Zambians had become too obsessed with corruption when the practice was not only peculiar to Zambia.
“Let us make it very clear that government is aware that there are sometimes citizens who abuse their privilege and involve themselves in corruption. But I think that the majority of the 17 million Zambians are fairly decent people…Sometimes we have to highlight good things about our country. Recently there was a report that Zambia is 5th most peaceful country in Africa. That is a big achievement and we must be proud. So if we are bent on seeing our country only with gloomy eyes or bad eyes, that is a story we will sell but we in government want to sell a story of hope. And that there are many young people in this country who are working hard and doing the right thing. The country is not just about corruption. We are becoming a bit obsessed with corruption,” Siliya said.
“Corruption is not unique to Zambia, and we are one of the countries in Africa that has even made strides to ensure that we have the laws that work and an environment that is free for the media to report about corruption because this doesn’t happen in other jurisdictions. So for me, I think that we should sometimes really be positive about our country.”
Meanwhile, commenting on recent remarks by US Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote who said the international community was aware of donor money being channeled for personal use or politics, Siliya said there were proper channels to communicate such concerns.
“Clearly, as a country, we’ve made strides in putting in place systems that should work for us to ensure that Zambians get value for money. Whether it is the Anti-Corruption Commissiom, the Financial Intelligence Unit, the DEC or courts of law… we’ve really been able to put in place systems as Zambians, not politicians, but as Zambians, to say when there are corrupt activities, they should be brought to light so that people are taken to court. And this continues to happen in this country. So if there is an issue with any of our cooperating partners, we believe there are right channels for these matters to be discussed. Of course as government we appreciate counsel from our friends who are our cooperating partners but we always emphasise that there are channels and platforms to discuss these issues because Zambia’s record to be honest in fighting corruption is unparalleled. It’s the only country where we keep hearing of corruption cases everyday,” she said.
“This doesn’t happen in other countries, you the media would not even be able to report them. So I think we should be happy with the kind of environment we have in this country that these issues can even be reported, that we have laws supporting whistle blowers, that these things can be in the media everyday and police do their work, that these things can be taken to court and it doesn’t matter who you are in society. I think we should actually be happy that we are doing a good job. The fact that we have many cases is a reflection that the law is working. Because we are not having those many cases, we’d be wondering, is the law working or is indeed that it is being hidden. The fact that these cases are being reported, and some of them not even true, just a sensensational. But the fact that we have an environment where they are being reported, I think it’s very healthy. This is why as government, we have continued to say we are supporting the fight against corruption. But we are also against sensationalism because it just gives the country a bad image.”
Meanwhile, Siliya said government fully supported the appointment of Dr Simon Miti as the new Secretary to Cabinet.
“We’ve been following the whole week that people have been talking about the appointment of Dr Miti as the new Secretary to Cabinet. I think government wishes to put on record that Dr Miti was a witness in a court process, he was not the accused. In this country we must allow matters to have a logical conclusion. Our perception and our thinking does not necessarily reflect the facts and the President in his best judgment feels that Dr Miti is the right person at this point in time to be the Secretary to Cabinet, he’s an experienced individual, he’s had a lot of experience within government, he did serve as Permanent Secretary for many years and as a result, it’s only logical that he be the Secretary to Cabinet. Personal sentiments about whether you like him or not… people don’t want to read the facts that in court he was merely a witness and not an accused, I think we must allow matters to come to a logical conclusion and not sensationalize everything. Government has put it’s full weight behind Dr Miti and we only wish him the best as he executes his new position in government,” said Siliya.
The Minister also clarified that the distribution of relief food being undertaken by government through the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) in areas that were affected by droughts in the last farming season should not be politicized because it was not targeted at members of the ruling party.