TRANSPARENCY International Zambia (TIZ) says British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s contemplation of reducing his country’s aid to Zambia should be a wakeup call for government to generate its own resources from God-given natural endowments.

And TIZ says the apparent non-desire to suspend officials facing corruption charges does not paint a good picture of Zambia and it makes the country an easy target for considerations such as the one Britain is making.

In a statement, Sunday, TIZ chapter president Rueben Lifuka said there was need for the Zambian government to put its house in order in terms of governance.

“TIZ has noted with worry the comments made by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson questioning the continued relevance of giving huge aid to Zambia as reported in the News Diggers edition of 18th June 2020. There is no doubt that Zambia as a country has benefitted greatly from the British government’s all weather friendship and support over the years through the then Department for International Development (DfID). TIZ is also cognizant of the fact that even civil society organisations and other non-state actors have also been beneficiaries of the British government’s technical and financial support over many years. It is from this premise that Prime Minister Johnson’s comments and contemplation to reduce British aid coming to Zambia should come as a wakeup call to the government of Zambia and other stakeholders to not only put our house in order in terms of issues of governance but to also to think more practically about developing our ability to generate resources from our God-given natural endowments in order to supplement whatever aid we receive to advance our development prospects,” Lifuka stated.

Lifuka observed that Zambia had not fared well on the aspect of good governance.

“The most recent Corruption Perception Index (CPI) suggests that we have fallen back as a country on the issue of corruption, and the unfortunate remarks made by the Chief Government Spokesperson on the scourge, coupled by the apparent non-desire at the highest level of government to suspend officials facing corruption charges, does not paint a good picture of Zambia within the international community. We believe this makes us an easy target for considerations such as the one made by the Prime Minister Johnson. In addition to this, the continued threats to Zambia’s civic space, as seen from the closure of some media houses on flimsy grounds, and threats made by senior government officials on youths voicing concern about governance issues, among others have not helped to build Zambia’s image as a country that respects the fundamental freedoms of citizens, which we believe also makes us as a country vulnerable whenever considerations of this nature are being made,” Lifuka stated.

Lifuka appealed to government to reflect on its performance and take practical steps to change the growing perception suggesting that it did not have the capacity to deal with corruption.

“TIZ wishes to make an earnest appeal to the Zambian government to reflect on its performance when it comes to issues of governance, and to take immediate and practical steps to change the growing perception that it does not have what it takes to tackle issues of corruption, reducing civic space and other governance challenges with which we continue to grapple. It is TIZ’s considered belief that this will help to enhance Zambia’s image to the international community as a country that is governed by the rule of law,” stated Lifuka.

“ TIZ also believes that Prime Minister Johnson’s comments should give the Zambian government renewed vigor to realize the potential of Zambia’s natural resources, such as minerals, in ways that will not only promote accountability and transparency, but also the full and beneficial participation of Zambians. We believe this will contribute to making Zambia more self-sufficient as a country, with whatever aid received coming largely to complement our development efforts.”

Lifuka encouraged the Zambian government to immediately seek audience with the British High Commission in order to give assurance and to highlight what specific steps Zambia would take to address the current governance issues that were raising serious concern among citizens and other stakeholders.