FORMER attorney general Musa Mwenye says it is sad that government officials have a tendency of defending the corrupt.

Commenting on President Edgar Lungu’s recent remarks that the corruption fight was political and that investigative wings were targeting to remove him from office, Mwenye said there was no need to fear the ACC if one had not stolen.

“It is very sad that every time we hear our government leaders talk about corruption, they are defending the corrupt and attacking those who are fighting corruption. Instead of protecting our money and protecting the little resources that this country has, those who are supposed to discourage stealing are in the forefront encouraging the corrupt to continue looting the few resources we have,” Mwenye said.

“The comments being made have the effect of impeding the fight against corruption and discouraging law enforcement officers against genuinely fighting corruption. Any person who has not stolen from the Zambian people has no reason to fear the Anti Corruption Commission, the FIC and other law enforcement organs and it is the first time I have heard a sitting government complain that it is being targeted in the fight against corruption. Why these complaints? How is that possible? From my experience in government, no minister in government is investigated without the knowledge of the Head of State! Why is His Excellency the President surprised about these investigations? Is there something we are missing somewhere?”

Mwenye said there was substantial evidence indicating that grand corruption had reached alarming levels in Zambia.

“The fact is that grand corruption in this country has reached alarming levels! We have procurement contracts which are severely inflated. We have purchased ambulances which could have been purchased at US$50,000 at over US$200,000. Fire trucks which should have cost not more than US$150,000 at US$1,000,000 and we even allow some of these things we are buying at ridiculous prices to come into the country tax free. The FIC reported that one government official was given 49 houses as payment! As if this was not enough, the ACC told us that they had forfeited 48 houses and mysteriously, the owner of these houses has just vanished in thin air,” Mwenye said.

“The FIC listed corrupt transaction coming up to over US$800 million in just 3 years! The list of corrupt activities goes on and on and to add insult to injury, the corrupt individuals who steal from us have the audacity to live like pop stars and shamelessly flash their wealth which has been stolen from the poor. When the poor complain, we are being told that ‘government cannot provide everything, we Zambians are lazy’ but those telling us that are having all they need provided for by us Zambians who they are stealing from.”

Mwenye said corruption was a cancer and the corrupt were worse than pickpockets.

“In the midst of all these things, we have a Minister harassing police officers at road blocks who he accused of getting small bribes which can just buy a few necessities. This same Minister is on video saying that those in power steal to safeguard their future. The same Minister, who appears very dear and close to our President, goes on to tell us that we shouldn’t get concerned about K2,000,000 possibly lost to corruption because it is nothing,” lamented Mwenye.

“Corruption is a cancer and the corrupt are worse than pickpockets who steal from people’s pockets or even armed robbers who terrorize a single family because the corrupt steal from millions of Zambians at one time and the effect of their theft leads to absence of drugs in our hospitals and death of hundreds of Zambians, lack of basic necessities of Zambians, absence of input support for our farmers and the list is endless. The fact that the corrupt drive expensive cars and wear nice suits does not change the fact that they are just thieves. Our leaders should genuinely fight corruption.”