Swedish Ambassador to Zambia Ann Maj Hultgård says the fight against corruption is part of her country’s global drive for democracy because the vice undermines people’s trust in political and economic systems of any nation.

Ambassador Hultgård made these remarks when her embassy, Transparency International Zambia (TIZ), Make Trade Sweden, and the local Swedish Network for sustainable business held a seminar, “Promoting ethical business practices”, to highlight best practices and the importance of transparency, non-discrimination and good governance structures in doing ethical business, Thursday.

According to a statement issued by Embassy of Sweden communication manager Anna Dloski, with this initiative, the Embassy of Sweden seeks to create a platform for dialogue on how to promote business to take the lead on ethical practices together with experts from the private and public sectors, as well as Zambian and Swedish business leaders.

“Companies that do business responsibly and find opportunities to innovate around sustainability will in the future be the new business leaders. Strong ethical non corrupt business practices are built on a commitment from the leadership in the organization. It also needs to be underpinned by a compliance system which is enforced and adapted to local conditions,” read the statement.

“This is a seminar to which Zambian, Swedish and international business leaders active in Zambia are invited, together with representatives from the Government and public institutions, UN agencies, Zambian chambers of commerce, COMESA and non-governmental organisations.”

In her remarks, Ambassador Hultgård highlighted the importance of clean business.

“Clean business is good business! Companies that embrace the principles of honesty and transparency gain credibility and competitive advantage. And it can be a very costly mistake to ignore these principles. That is also how Swedish companies tend to see it – they see openness and transparency as a business case”, said Ambassador Hultgård.

“Corruption undermines people’s trust in political and economic systems, institutions and leaders. That’s why the fight against corruption, together with partners such as Transparency International Zambia, is an important part of Sweden’s global drive for democracy”.

Meanwhile, Transparency International Zambia president Rueben Lifuka said there had been increasing levels of corruption in Zambia over the last few years.

“The last several years have seen increasing levels of corruption in Zambia. Corruption slows economic development, drives away foreign investment and creates a culture of impunity,” said Lifuka.

According to the Embassy, the seminar theme was timely for the commemoration of the International Anti-Corruption Day (9 December) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (10 December).