Transparency International Zambia chapter president Rueben Lifuka has noted that the fight against corruption in 2019 yielded nothing significant as the scourge remains rife.

And President Edgar Lungu says people should not politicise the fight against corruption for political mileage, and has vowed that he will not allow corrupt elements to derail him from the country’s development path.

Zambia, Monday, joined the rest of the world in commemorating the world Anti-Corruption day which was held under the theme “United against Corruption”.

Lifuka noted that the majority of Zambians believe that not enough is being done to fight corruption in the country.

“The sad reality [that] we should not even spend time arguing about is that corruption is real in our country and the magnitude of the scourge continues to increase each day. There has been nothing extraordinary or historical about the fight against corruption in 2019. The prevalence of corruption remains high and various corruption metrics and corruption measurement tools, clearly demonstrate this fact. The perception among many Zambians is that Government is not doing enough to fight corruption and various scandals and exposes in the media, unfortunately continue to fortify this perception. In the 2019 Zambia Bribe Payer Index Report, prepared jointly by the Anti-Corruption Commission and Transparency International Zambia, 49 per cent of the respondents disagreed that government was doing enough to combat corruption, and 26.9 per cent strongly disagreed,” noted Lifuka.

“Clearly, it is not enough for us to have good laws which we cannot fully enforce, it is not appropriate and effective for us to have institutions like the Anti-Corruption Commission which we do not fund adequately for it to fully discharge its functions. It is a disservice to ourselves and to future generations to have government agencies like the Financial Intelligence Centre which prepares reports that we simply rubbish without taking any necessary action. The people of Zambia and its leadership, should sit up and take notice when the Financial Intelligence Centre report of 2018 shows K6.1 billion suspicious transactions, of which K4.9 billion was lost to corruption. We cannot be indifferent to the significance of the various reports on the state of corruption in Zambia.”

Speaking when he officiated at the event, President Lungu said that he would not condone perpetrators of corruption roaming free regardless of their standing in society.

“I wish to reiterate that no perpetrator of corruption will be allowed to roam free, but will face the full wrath of the law, regardless of their standing in society. Those who engage in corrupt practices deny our mothers, fathers and children in the rural areas access to basic services such as healthcare, education and proper sanitation. This is because these few selfish individuals pocket funds meant for the provision of public services. My government will not condone that. It is heartbreaking to see the levels of abuse and embezzlement of public resources which continue to be revealed in the Auditor-General’s report, and other related reports. Colossal sums of money are reportedly lost by institutions every year, because some public officers have taken it upon themselves to milk public resources for their own selfish benefit. I want to see these erring officers punished, and the stolen funds recovered. I, therefore, challenge the law enforcement institutions such as ACC and all others to intensify their efforts in this regard. Please collaborate with each other and deal with these matters swiftly, to avoid loss of public funds. It is not state house to do this, it is your institutions,” he said.

“My government will do its part in ensuring that we attain a corruption-free Zambia by rendering the necessary support to the fight against corruption, and to the institution mandated to lead the fight against corruption. Let me reiterate my government’s resolve to do what is necessary for the attainment of a corruption-free country. Zambia is on a path to economic prosperity, and we will not allow corrupt elements to derail us from this path of development. I would like to call upon all stakeholders therefore; civil society, faith-based organisations, political parties, institutions of learning, government institutions and the entire citizenry, to take up the challenge to do more in the fight against corruption. Please do not politicise the fight against corruption for political mileage. Let me emphasise, we will not politicise the fight against corruption, it is your responsibility to establish who should be prosecuted or not. There should be no sacred cows.”

The president however added that government would intensify the involvement of young people who are key stakeholders in the fight against corruption.

“The United Nations has this year, prioritised and recognised the important role that young people play in the fight against corruption and has, as such, included a component of youth involvement in its campaign against the scourge. In emulating this global effort, my government will intensify the involvement of young people who are key stakeholders in the fight against corruption because of their power to influence social change. I wish to urge the Anti-Corruption Commission and other governance institutions to develop, enhance and implement specific programmes targeted at the young people, especially in learning institutions. These will help to instill in them values of honesty, integrity and accountability which become part of their character as they grow,” said Lungu.