TRANSPARENCY International Zambia (TI-Z) says President Edgar Lungu’s pronouncement during the opening of Parliament that the PF government is committed to fighting corruption does not correspond to what is on the ground.

In an interview, TI-Z executive director Maurice Nyambe said President Lungu’s talk on corruption had become a mere rhetoric.

“The problem we have seen over the years is that the commitments to fight corruption by senior government officials including the President have often turned out to be mere rhetoric. This is evidenced by the fact that the President has for example turned a blind eye or chosen not to take action against senior government officials who are in the habit of trivializing the fight against corruption through reckless statements such as that ‘corruption is everywhere and we must not make it a daily song’,” Nyambe said.

“Similarly, a senior government official who made fun of the children of former President KK for not having taken advantage of their father’s presidency to make illicit wealth have gone scot free, with no punitive measures taken against them. All these examples make a mockery of commitments to fight corruption as they appear to confirm that such verbal commitments are mere rhetoric. It’s high time we started moving from verbalized to actualized commitment because failure to do so will continue to make a mockery of our efforts to fight corruption as a country.”

Nyambe observed that the current relationship between government and anti corruption law enforcement agencies was hostile, which was not good for the fight against graft.

“The relationship between government and institutions meant to fight corruption has been a frosty relationship largely because of the incessant attacks on these institutions that we have seen from the Executive. For example, the President attacking the ACC and accusing them of being out to get him; or other senior government officials attacking the FIC after the release of the 2018 FIC Trends Report, which we believe contributed to the shallowness we have seen in the 2019 FIC Trends Report released two weeks ago. So the relationship is a frosty one and this does not bode well for the fight against corruption,” said Nyambe.

And former secretary to the cabinet Leslie Mbula said to end corruption, government had to take the lead in fighting the vice.

“To every coin, there is a positive and a negative, every dark cloud has a silver lining. Today the President is talking about fighting corruption. To me, that is very encouraging if only his words match the action because it is easy to say I will fight corruption, but in reality are you fighting corruption? So if the President said he wants to start fighting corruption now, I am very encouraged but we have to wait for his actions. Going to what has happened before, those are empty words,” said Mbula.

“The best way to fight corruption is commitment by leadership. Leadership must set an example. If for example in my house I am always beating my wife, the children growing in my house will also be beating their wives when they grow up. They will think that is the way of livelihood. Living in a democracy when you are elected as a leader, you are a custodian of wealth of the people, you look after that wealth for the people. We have done that during the last 50 years, there have been cases of corruption here and there but we were dedicated to fight. So they must make their words known that they don’t tolerate corruption, once they do that then people are going to believe. If you say something, you have to put into action.”