TRANSPARENCY International Zambia (TI-Z) says the PF government has not improved any mechanisms for fighting and detecting corruption.

Commenting on PF media director Sunday Chanda’s remarks that Zambia’s worsened performance on the Corruption Perceptions Index was an indication that the PF government had put in place mechanisms that were able to effectively detect it in the public sector, TI-Z executive director Maurice Nyambe said that argument was flawed.

“On 28th January, 2021, Transparency International Zambia (TI-Z) launched the 2020 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) which indicated that Zambia has dropped by a point from a score of 34 in 2019 to 33 in 2020, indicating that the corruption situation in Zambia is not getting any better and has in fact become endemic. We have noted with keen interest the statement by the ruling Patriotic Front (PF)’s media director Mr Sunday Chanda, which gives the highly erroneous interpretation that the decline in Zambia’s score does not entail an increase in corruption but an improvement in mechanisms that detect corruption and therefore something about which we should commend the ruling party and government of the day. While not entirely surprised by the response, TI-Z would like to categorically dismiss Mr Chanda’s interpretation of the 2020 CPI findings because not only does it seek to gain cheap marks out of a serious problem that we are facing as a country, but it also prevents a sober and honest reflection on how dire the corruption situation in Zambia has become,” Nyambe said in an interview.

Nyambe said Zambia’s CPI score had continued to decline since 2016 adding that corruption had exacerbated due to lack of political will to fight it.

“We would like to point out that Zambia’s CPI score has declined every single year since 2016 so the decline seen in 2020 continues the downward trend that we have been witnessing over the last five years. The problem with Mr. Chanda’s misguided interpretation is that it fails to grasp the core problem at hand when it comes to corruption, the problem per se is not that corruption is difficult to detect; rather it is that corruption exists in the first place and has been exacerbated by lack of political will to fight it as well as systemic weaknesses that make it easy for the corrupt to thrive in their activities under the watch of the current regime,” Nyambe said.

“We challenge Mr Chanda to pinpoint which specific detection mechanisms have improved and what results we have seen therefrom. We note that the Honeybee scandal was unearthed as a result of the commendable investigative journalism by the News Diggers! Rather than any detection mechanisms that Mr Chanda is trying to extol. The same is true for many of the corruption cases that we have seen, whose exposure has been largely a result of the same private media houses which cadres belonging to Mr Chanda’s party have been attacking for featuring people that raise these issues.”

Nyambe said the PF had not improved any mechanisms to fight corruption but that what had improved was the impunity on the mismanagement of resources by those entrusted to manage.

“From where TI-Z stands, the ruling party has not improved any mechanisms for detecting corruption. What has ‘improved’ is the impunity with which people entrusted with managing national resources appear to be misusing those resources for their own selfish benefit through irregular procurement processes and dodgy contract awards that benefit those with an affinity to the ruling party,” said Nyambe.

“TI-Z would like to advise Mr Chanda and his party that rather than look to gain cheap marks by giving a misguided interpretation of Zambia’s 2020 CPI score, they should rather introspect and try to understand what is driving the perceptions about worsening corruption in Zambia. The CPI score for Zambia was an aggregated average of 9 research studies conducted by the African Development Bank, World Bank, Economist Intelligence Unit and World Economic Forum, among others. Mr Chanda and his party would do well to get the metadata from these individual studies in order to understand what questions were asked and what responses were provided about corruption in Zambia. We are convinced that would be a better response to the CPI findings as it will lead to a deep and honest reflection on how the ruling party and government has allowed corruption to flourish to the extent that the lives of citizens have been put on the line.”