Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) executive director Wesley Chibamba says President Edgar Lungu should emulate his Kenyan counterpart President Uhuru Kenyatta in upholding the corruption fight by removing corruption-accused ministers.
And Chibamba says President Lungu’s Cabinet reshuffles will not have an impact in the fight against corruption as some individuals were inherently corrupt.
Last week, President Kenyatta swiftly removed former Finance Minister Henry Rotich, who was dragged to court over corruption allegations involving alleged fraud over his handling of multi-million dollar contracts for the construction of two dams in western Kenya.
According to Al Jazeera, this is the first time a sitting Finance Minister had been charged.
Reacting to the development in an interview, Chibamba said government should reassure Zambians by showing real political will in the fight against corruption.
“The example that Mr Kenyatta has set is quite a powerful one and also I believe our government should emulate when dealing with public officials that are corrupt. We saw that he fired his Minister and we are expecting that our leaders here in Zambia can emulate that example and do the same if we are going to win the fight against corruption. I think people need to be given the reassurance that there is actually political will when it comes to the fight against corruption because the challenge is there where even people are accused of corruption and are not fired. Some of the witnesses are supposed to be people working in the ministries they preside on,” Chibamba said.
“So, how does someone confidently testify against someone who has the authority to fire them or sanction them in any way? So, then, it really weakens the fight against corruption, but I think the message is about demonstrating political will so that you can give confidence to the people that our leaders are committed to the fight against corruption, and that they are not paying lip service to it and making rhetorical political pronouncements.”
He said it was surprising for people to call for evidence in corruption cases when many independent reports have showed that corruption is on the rise in the current regime.
“In terms of the corruption fight, I think we have not done well in Zambia and under the current regime and we are not just speaking from without. We are hearing people calling for evidence saying ‘evidence-based corruption fight,’ but the statistics are there to show for themselves! I think they are a lot of government documents that show a picture to the effect that corruption has worsened and mismanagement of public resources has sky rocketed. But also, they are independent surveys and reports that show to the effect that corruption has increased. There are a lot of reports from donors, cooperating partners and other independent entities, including Transparency International. When you look at the trends over the past years the current regime has been in power, the situation has been deteriorating, and there has been evidence to that effect; there are a lot of reports that we can point you to,” he said.
And Chibamba said President Lungu’s latest Cabinet reshuffle would have no effect in the fight against corruption as some individuals were inherently corrupt.
“It may not necessarily be a response to the fight against corruption, but maybe to issues to service delivery. In another breath, it could in case where some people were too familiar and comfortable within their institutions and know how to kind of manipulate their system. But the challenge is that when an individual is inherently corrupt, wherever you take them, that is their nature, that is their character, they’ll still be corrupt! So, you are basically transferring a problem from one institution to another. So, it needs to be looked at both ways in terms of fighting corruption. There is a lot that can be done; the reshuffles could have been necessary in terms of shaking up the civil service towards public service delivery and where people are not too familiar to each other because when someone stays long in an institution they become familiar with their PSs, directors,” said Chibamba.