Corruption not unique to Zambia, it exists worldwide, Kasolo tells British Envoy

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo says Zambians have propelled corruption to the very top of the country’s agenda, which makes the vice appear as if it only exists in Zambia when the scourge is worldwide.

And Kasolo has insisted that resources are available to deal with the food insecurity that has resulted from the poor crop yield in the 2018/2019 farming season.

Outgoing British High Commissioner to Zambia Fergus Cochrane-Dyet wondered how Zambia’s foreign debt had swollen back to unsustainable levels after creditors, such as the UK, had wiped it out in 2005.

In his farewell remarks in Lusaka, Tuesday, the British Envoy said corruption was killing the vulnerable in Zambia, “as surely as any gun”.

But in a counter-statement, Kasolo stated that government would not underplay the seriousness of corruption and its effects on the country.

“Government has never and will not underplay the seriousness of corruption and its effects on the country. This can be seen in the various measures government has and continues to undertake to fight the scourge. This is one country where there are no sacred cows as shown in the many high profile cases before the courts of law,” Kasolo stated in a statement.

“Added to this, is government’s ‘hands-off’ approach to the various anti-corruption agencies, which are free to investigate and prosecute anyone suspected of wrong doing. The media is equally abuzz daily, with stories on corruption and other malpractices. This is healthy and it is the desire of government that this fight is fought transparently and objectively, in which there are no sacred cows. It is unprecedented in the region that the fight against corruption can be so high on the country’s agenda. It is a fact that Zambians themselves have propelled corruption to the very top of the country’s agenda, which makes it seem as though corruption exists only in our country when, in fact, corruption is a worldwide scourge.”

And Kasolo added that government had never failed to meet its debt obligations, saying that it remained committed to repaying its outstanding debt.

“As recently stated by the Minister of Finance, Dr Bwalya Ng’andu, Zambia has never failed to meet its debt obligations. It ought to be realized that the Government of the Republic of Zambia contracts debt on behalf of and for the benefit of the Zambian people. Government, therefore, remains committed to repaying its outstanding debt, now and in the future. It should be noted that even developed countries all over the world contract debt for their development and other programmes just like Zambia has done,” he added.

And reacting to the outgoing High Commissioner’s concerns on waning political dialogue where he wondered if the National Dialogue Forum (NDF) did anything to foster reconciliation ahead of the 2021 general elections, Kasolo stated that since Zambia gained independence, it had peacefully and successfully changed political parties in power three times.

He also insisted that resources were available to deal with the food insecurity that resulted from a poor crop yield in the 2018/2019 farming season, adding that government had the capacity to deal with the situation without the need to rush to declare a national disaster.

“Zambia is a sovereign state and reserves the right to make independent decisions on any matter in the interest of its citizens. According to the Disaster Management Act No. 13 of 2010, it is a preserve of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia to declare a national disaster. This Act is also very clear on the procedure that is followed to declare a national disaster,” he stated.

“Government acknowledges that the hunger situation in some parts of the country is serious and is doing everything possible to ensure that food is distributed to all the needy people. The key issue that is considered in declaring a national disaster, is the severity of the incident and the affected communities’ capacity to cope, in conjunction with government interventions. Government reiterates that resources are available to deal with the food insecurity that has resulted from the poor crop yield in the 2018/2019 farming season. As such, government has the capacity to deal with the situation, without the need to rush to declare a national disaster.”

On media freedoms and expression, Kasolo observed that the fact that the High Commissioner could speak freely and at length prior to leaving Zambia was a sign of the freedom of expression cherished and upheld by Zambians.

“The Zambian media are able to write freely about any issue of public and national interest, such as corruption, regardless of who is involved. Besides, we have also continued to experience an upswing in the number of new media institutions, with the full support of the Zambian government through the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) who issue broadcasting licenses. All this cannot be attributed to anything else, but a favorable environment for the media to operate and grow,” stated Kasolo.

“Government reiterates its commitment to continued excellent relations with the United Kingdom and wishes His Excellency Mr Cochrane-Dyet O.B.E the best in his future endeavours.”

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