TRANSPARENCY International Zambia (TI-Z) president Joseph Kalungu says it is evident that corruption is getting worse, pledging to continue holding hold government and the private sector to account.

And his predecessor, Rueben Lifuka, says corrupt individuals should not be glorified.

Meanwhile, Non-Governmental Gender Organization Coordinating Council (NGOCC) board chairperson Mary Mulenga says corruption is responsible for the problems which Zambia is currently facing.

Speaking during a gala dinner to celebrate TI-Z’s 20th year anniversary, Friday, Kalungu said he would not let the organization down.

“May I begin to thank you most sincerely for your confidence in us by entrusting us with the honorable and noble task of taking the lead of strengthening the lead of strengthening our organization for the next three years. The formidable team that you have elected this afternoon has a fundamental job at hand and I am sure we shall not let you down. May I say that our diversity should be viewed and interpreted as underscoring our strengths rather than our weaknesses. We should always concentrate on and maximize things that bring us together and things that we want to take, whatever differences that we have, whatever issues that we have within our organization, we should make sure that that helps us to come out to bring out the best in each one of us. Our pledge that we want to make first of all, like Mr Lifuka demonstrated in giving us the instruments of works, we want to pledge our allegiance to our articles of our association TI charter, our values and our principals in our watchdog role in offering checks and balances whenever its needed,” Kalungu said.

“Indeed as our TI strategy stipulates that we pledge to hold power to account. It is evident that corruption is getting worse and our work as TI is more relevant like never before. And also, we understand that it is harder to go in an environment where the space for most of us especially, those of us working in the civil society, the space keeps on shrinking. But I am sure working in coalition with other like minded entities, civil society organizations, working with the churches but also working with the government itself, our agenda of contributing to build bridges and institutions of integrity shall be achieved.”

Kalungu said corruption was an activity which threatened democracy and people’s lives.

“Ours is a noble task of fighting the difficult fight. Difficult in the sense that corruption, abuse of office are mostly done in places that are not open to all. Our focus, among other tasks, should be to ensure that our institutions have adequate resources, material, financial resources for us to operate effectively. To build strong operations, professionalism both at secretariat and also at membership level but also, we want to continue to work with what the previous board has been doing to boost our visibility as TIZ and also as corruption watchdog,” said Kalungu.

“We pledge also to work hard to affect policies and also governance systems so that we can serve the Zambian people. We also want to pledge to be responsive to the matters that are of major of concern that are being raised by not only members but members of the communities at large. We must remember that our capability and transparency are a crucial element in public institutions and our oversight role must never fade so that we ensure ethical engagement in governance arena. Ours is the accountability, responsibility of holding government, private sector to account. Corruption is an activity which threatens democracy and our lives.”

And Lifuka said the corrupt should not be glorified.

“Over the last 20 years, TIZ has ben at the forefront of raising awareness of evils of corruption. We made it our central role to ensure that the Zambian people realized that corruption does not play and we should not glorify corrupt individuals. In the last 20 years of our existence, we have advocated for policy and legal reforms so that or fight against corruption is one that is anchored on international and regional standards. We have been instrumental in advocating for the domestication of international and regional conventions into the local laws,” said Lifuka.

“Similarly, we have undertaken research and surveys such as the National Integrity system, the Zambia Bribe Payer Index, show me the money, the state of corruption, among others. It has been our desire to understand the phenomenon of corruption by undertaking action research. We have gone out to educate young people to ensure that we plant seeds of integrity in the new generation.”

Meanwhile, Mulenga, who was the guest of honor, said corruption was responsible for the many challenges which the country was facing.

“May I congratulate TIZ for celebrating 20 years it is very important to recognize that work that you are doing. TIZ would not have reached 20 years if it wasn’t for the members of staff that have been part of this great organization for the past 20 years. TIZ has become a household name as we have been told and whenever we hear TIZ, I think it is synonymous with corruption. TIZ has the leading roles in civil society space when it comes to the fight against corruption. Yes, the fight against corruption is a difficult one, it is not an easy one, you remain bold. TIZ has been very instrumental and very vocal not only on corruption but on a number of governance issues ranging from policies, elections as well as laws. Let me remind all of us to borrow the sentiments of TIZ and say that corruption is not a victimless crime. We always talk about corruption being the cancer,” said Mulenga.

“True to our words, corruption is responsible for the many challenges we are facing today and we are glad that in the midst of so many challenges, including the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed a lot of lives, we can still find time to come together here to celebrate and encourage our colleagues that you need to soldier on and keep the faith.”

And TIZ awarded five media institutions for helping them spread their messages during their last 20 days in existence. The awarded institutions are News Diggers, Radio Mano, Hot Fm, Radio Phoenix and QFM.

Some of TIZ’s employees and members were also awarded for long and dedicated service, among other categories.