Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) chapter president Rueben Lifuka has lamented that Zambians support corruption by voting for corrupt leaders.

And Lifuka says it has become a permanent feature for the PF government to reject any report which indicates an increase in corruption.

Speaking during Capital FM Radio’s The Big Issue, Tuesday, Lifuka lamented that Zambians had allowed corruption to thrive because they hero-worshiped corrupt politicians.

“As Zambians, we have become very permissive to corruption! We allow corruption to happen; we hero-worship the corrupt; we vote for the corrupt. The corrupt do not just drop from heaven like manna from God; they come from within our society. We are the ones who vote for these persons, even when we know what their background is. I argue that in our country a person is not corrupt as long as they are kith and kin. Even if I brought you evidence to demonstrate that ‘this person is corrupt’ as long as they’re your kith and kin, you will find a justification,” Lifuka argued.

“So, we have normalized corruption and we find justification for corruption. So, corruption is not corruption because ‘this is my relative and he is a resource,’; corruption is not corruption because ‘this is my party and my party is in power,’; corruption is not corruption because ‘this is my leader and I believe in him’ and corruption is not corruption because ‘he is my tribes-mate’.”

He recalled that in the past, traditional leaders had come out in the open to strongly support corruption-accused individuals on the basis that they were their tribesmen.

“What we have seen in the recent past, where we have traditional leaders coming out strongly to support the person that has been alleged to be corrupt, they are not supporting him that he is a man of integrity, but they are simply supporting him because ‘he is our tribes-mate; he is our son.’ And that tribal chauvinism we continue to see is what is leading us to where we are, where we have become permissive of corruption; we rationalize corruption; we find excuses for corruption. So, until we get to a point where society starts saying, ‘it doesn’t matter, corruption is corruption…’ And corruption has grave consequences, not just on this generation, but future generations. We will continue to see corruption thriving in this manner,” he observed.

And Lifuka said the PF had made it a habit to reject any reports that were indicating an increase in corruption.

“Every other report, interestingly, has become a permanent feature or characteristic of the PF government; there is no single report they have put up that they have said, ‘yes, we agree…’ whether it is the Corruption Index, it is the scorecard from the Millennium Challenge…you name it. Even when they accept, they accept in default like the Millennium Challenge score card; government were celebrating that because it just didn’t read the numbers, it was a good report as they made it to be. I think if it was not as good as it looked like on paper, probably they were also going to condemn it,” Lifuka said.

He said the onus was on government to provide important information to the public as this would kill any speculation of corruption.

Lifuka also urged government to provide information on why Mukula logs had continued being exported despite the ban as alluded to in the Environmental Intelligence Report.

“The onus is on government to provide further and better particulars in this particular instant. It doesn’t help to simply say, ‘that report has no legs to stand on!’ The truth of the matter is that, Mukula trading has been happening in this country, both legally and illegally, that is number one. Number two, government did impose a ban on Mukula trading; number three; Mukula trading, despite the ban, is continuing and there are people, who are involved in this trade, who need to be investigated for going against the ban. What government needs to be doing at this stage is to provide information as to what is happening with the Mukula trade. Why is it that despite the ban, we continue to see this trade happening? This is not the only report done; there was an another report done, I think it is the Centre for Forestry research if I can remember correctly where they demonstrated that what Zambia had received by way of receipts for Mukula trading, as reported by Zambians, was not in tandem with the receipts as reported by China,” said Lifuka.

“So, what we need is cogent information on the part of government of what has happened with the Mukula trade. ZAFFICO has been involved in this business and I think it is just appropriate to provide information. So, to simply rubbish the report without providing additional information still leaves a lot of speculation. Our challenge, really, is for government to provide information to the Zambian public. What of the reasons why we see corruption and allegations of corruption rising in this country in certain instances is the absence of information. We should then not be in a situation where government reacts to media stories whenever they come out.”