ARCHBISHOP Telesphore Mpundu says corruption in the ruling Patriotic Front is endemic and on a large scale.

And Archbishop Mpundu says it is disappointing that citizens are not allowed to freely express their views as most of them are being intimidated for speaking against the lack of good governance in the country.

Speaking on Diamond TV’s “Costa” programme, Sunday, Archbishop Mpundu said everybody was complaining about the high levels of corruption in the government as it could not be hidden anymore.

“Corruption is there, it is a reality and it is so endemic and it is on a large scale. I think the government of the day owes it to the electorate to be transparent, to be accountable and to be prepared to be held to account. This is not possible, everybody is complaining and this cannot be hidden anymore, it is there. You see, meritocracy is what we wanted to live by when we gained independence from the British, it was under the auspices of the imperial majesty; but things have not been the way we expected. There has been mismanagement, bad governance, lack of constitutionalism, it is all there. So where are we going? Are we there as citizens to remain silent?” Archbishop Mpundu wondered.

“By the way, there is also what we can call a conspiracy of silence; the government doesn’t want to listen to the truth; they want to listen to only those that are singing praises to them. That is not right, you have to listen to the other side, if they want to know exactly…let them listen to everybody. What is very much evident is this corruption, it is endemic, it is on a large scale.”

He said citizens had the right to demand quality service delivery and transparency of public activities and also had the right to speak about the ills affecting the country without being labeled as championing regime change.

“When the electorates go to the polls, they elect a political party to govern and to rule. Once they do that, they want the government to stamp out corruption, where there are loopholes in terms of procurement to say they should bring it to an end. That is what they are there for, they have to deliver . You see, before the elections, you have political parties going around and they are wooing the electorates to put them into power, so once they have been put into office, it is not just a social contract. When people are elected into government, there is no social contract, it is constitutional. You have been put into government, people expect services and services that are timely and efficient and there are no two ways about it. If something is happening, it is the government of the day that is responsible. Corruption is there, the number one person that is responsible must put his foot down with a strong hand but we have not seen that,” Archbishop Mpundu said.

“That is exactly what is primitive about Zambia. When you speak about something that is happening in the country, in the administration, in the delivery of services, [then] you are after regime change, no! I don’t even need to belong to a political party to say something that is political. It is wrongly premised on you; ‘don’t talk politics unless you belong to a political party’, no! We have a government that is put in place, all these ills that are going on, it is their mandate, they owe it to the electorate, they owe it to the people to do something about it. If they are not doing something about it, who are we going to blame? We have to blame those whom we have put in charge to serve us, that is that.”

When asked if he had been intimidated for speaking out on the ills happening in government, the Archbishop responded in the affirmative, adding that many citizens were not allowed to express their views without being frightened.

” …even when young people, want to demonstrate, what happens? Guns are being strained on them. They didn’t go to throw stones, they wanted simply to demonstrate and they were not allowed. We have the Public Order Act, when was it enacted? In 1955 [and] it is still there largely as it was. This is our country, we should be able to allow people to let off their feelings. I have a right given to me by the Constitution; there must be freedom of expression,” Archbishop Mpundu said.

And Bishop Mpundu said the formation of Our Civic Duty Association (OCiDA) was not meant to carry out a partisan agenda but to promote good governance and constitutionalism.

“When I join OCiDA, this is a civil society organization; don’t I have that right because I have a collar? I have a right to belong to any association of my choice and that is what I have done. What OCiDA is about is constitutionalism and good governance, that is all. We are a civil society which is non-partisan. We want the change of heart, whoever goes in State House, whoever holds power chosen by the people must perform well, that is all. If there is no change of heart, us as Zambians can change as many regimes as possible but it will be the same. In short, we are there to ensure that there is good governance. We want to promote good governance, how? By voicing out! Voicing out what we see as lack of governance and this is our constitutional right to say,” he said.

Archbishop Mpundu said the PF were afraid of their own shadows if they believed that OCiDA was formed to target them.

“If they (PF government) feel that they are being targeted, who am I to target anybody? As it is said time and again, in the political establishment, whether it is in Zambia or Malawi, Zimbabwe everywhere you go, apart from those who say they are in the first world, they have lived democracy for a long time; it is filled with little women and little men who are very much afraid even of their own shadows. Why should we politicise? We are speaking about issues that are affecting people,” said Archbishop Mpundu.

“You cannot take away politics because it is politicians who run for power and we put them in government to look after these issues, to deliver and that is that but if they are feeling that they are being targeted, what happened to Chiluba? It was the same thing, at the time of Mwanawasa, it was the same thing. Anybody who goes there, they get this mandate from the people, and people have the right to expect performance, good governance, constitutionalism, defence of our own Constitution, the rights and liberties must not be interfered with. If government starts frightening us, this is not right.”