GOVERNANCE Activist Rueben Lifuka has urged the new administration to allow Law Enforcement Agencies to investigate and prosecute all corruption cases, including any which may involve President Edgar Lungu, warning that it’s too early to send signals to the PF that all is forgiven.

And Lifuka says PF had become worse than the party it replaced, MMD, as its members involved themselves in corruption scandals, arrogance and tribal division, among other ills.

In a statement, Tuesday, Lifuka said it would be a betrayal of public trust if the new administration allowed forgiveness to circumvent accountability.

“While we welcome and support the public apologies from those who were in the PF for the atrocities they committed, we want to urge the UPND alliance to proceed with caution. Some of the same unsavoury and corrupt persons, will seek to find refuge in the UPND Alliance and hope that their deeds will not be investigated and prosecuted. There are some people whose survival depends on their proximity to power. President Elect Hichilema should constantly remember that the corruption of the PF is what stoked a lot of anger in the people. The young people turned out in large numbers and braved long hours on the queues in order to deliver a message for a new beginning. It will be a betrayal of public trust if the new administration starts giving assurances to the outgoing regime that they will not be investigated for their wrong doings under the facade of forgiveness and reconciliation,” Lifuka stated.

“Admittedly, we do not want to see a vindictive political witch-hunt as this will serve no purpose but the Law Enforcement Agencies should be given the full authority and independence to investigate all cases of corruption in a professional manner, including any which may involve President Lungu. There should be no sacred cows at all. This is the barest minimum we can expect from the new administration- it is too early for anyone including President-Elect Hichilema to send signals that all is forgiven and forgotten – where crimes have been committed, these should be investigated to the full extent of the law. Looters should not be given sanctuary from the long arm of the law.”

Lifuka advised the UPND government to take time to understand the magnitude of the rot of corruption caused by the PF before making any political commitments.

“President Elect and his team should take time to understand the magnitude of the rot of corruption caused by the outgoing administration before making any political commitments. There should be no political protection of the corrupt or any interference in the work of the Anti Corruption Commission, the Financial Intelligence Center, Drug Enforcement Commission and others who may have an interest to pursue investigations and prosecution in some of the corruption cases which the outgoing administration simply ignored. We can only heal and move forward when we fully appreciate how we got here in the first place. We all share in the value of forgiveness and reconciliation and we should all work towards reuniting the nation, but this should not be at the expense of truth and justice,” he said.

“People have died because of corruption, young people have been denied job opportunities because of corruption and the country has suffered financial losses because of corruption. President Elect Hichilema is fully alive to the fact that the people want answers to several questions regarding some of the corruption scandals like Honeybee, Marco Polo Tiles, Fire tender procurement, role of the Industrial Development Corporation and some of the dubious acquisition of shares, the public procurements associated with Covid 19, the Mukula tree saga, procurement of the presidential jet, digital migration, 48 houses, the social cash transfer saga involving Zampost, Forest 27 and many others. These matters will not be erased from the minds of the people through these public apologies and questions will continue to linger.”

And Lifuka urged President-Elect Hakainde Hichilema to work towards establishing a Cabinet made up of men and women of integrity, who should also be ready to subject themselves to Lifestyle audits.

“We need a clear strategy for fighting corruption and President Hichilema should be reminded that it is not the eloquence of his words but concrete actions that will win the fight against corruption. We have had too much lip service in the past and we hope his approach will be different. Additionally, President Elect Hichilema should work towards establishing a Cabinet made up of men and women of integrity and these should be ready to subject themselves to Lifestyle audits. Any person who has questionable character and has allegations of corruption or criminal conduct hovering over their heads, should not be anywhere near power,” he said.

“We want to see a clean government, yes it will not be a Cabinet of Angels but nonetheless, it should be one of men and women who are not scared to subject themselves to scrutiny for their current and past conduct. Similarly, we have a few MPs that have been elected whose corrupt and illegal dealings are well known- we want all of them to be subject to life style audits. One message that the UPND Alliance should get from the beginning is that the Zambian people will not give you the luxury to do what the PF did- there is no honeymoon for you and your actions will be closely scrutinised from the first day of your assumption into power.”

Lifuka noted that the outcome of the 2021 election was a reminder to those in elected office that they owe their stay in power to the people.

“Zambia has provided an example to the rest of the world on a successful and peaceful transition of power and we should all be proud of this record. Significantly, the outcomes of the 2021 election are a subtle reminder to those in elected office that they owe their stay in power to the people and this privilege can be withdrawn by the same people through the ballot. This, more than anything, was a referendum on the performance and conduct of the Patriotic Front. Lest we forget, PF in 2011 assumed power buoyed by public confidence that the party of the late Michael Sata would clean up the government of corruption and the plight of the poor would be given priority. Alas, the PF government, particularly under President Lungu progressively managed to insulate itself from the real needs of the people. The party lost its soul and basically became a gravy train for personal aggrandizement,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Lifuka said the PF had become worse than the MMD as its members involved themselves in corruption scandals, arrogance and tribal division, among other ills.

“The PF, like the MMD before them, invested heavily in arrogance, cronyism, patronage and simply corruption. The PF became a worse representation even of the MMD which it replaced in 2011- corrupt scandals, calumny and all manner of malfeasance, became its hallmarks. Power became a malleable tool in the hands of corrupt and tribal leaders who clearly cared less about the groaning cries of the poor and vulnerable. In the run up to the 2021 election, the PF ran a grandiose campaign, premised on arrogant display of riches and a brutal assault on the reputation of their opponents,” he said.

“There was no pretense whatsoever on the adoption of autocratic tendencies by those in power and everything was done to disadvantage political opponents in the campaign. PF leaders got to a point of entitlement – In their minds, Zambians had no option but to vote for them because they had delivered. Well, the Zambian people and particularly the young people turned up and demonstrated that the People always win, the people have the last say.”

Lifula urged President-elect Hichilema not to disappoint Zambians.

“There are a number of lessons to be learnt from the developments of the last couple of years and one of them is tenacity and perseverance- the President Elect lost elections many times and suffered at the hands of repressive authorities but he kept his eyes on the grand prize and Zambians have decided to give him an opportunity. President Elect Hichilema has been knocking on the doors of power for a long while and he should not disappoint us, now that he has achieved the long cherished dream. He comes into office at a time when the nation is groaning from the weight of corruption, abuse of office, economic hardship and social breakdown in many communities,” said Lifuka.

“He assumes office when young people feel disillusioned with a lack of concrete plans to address their plight and when there is a severe loss of public trust in institutions of governance especially the Zambia Police and key Ministries like Ministry of Health among others. Zambians do not trust politicians and the PF helped cement this perception- that is the Zambia President Elect Hichilema is taking over as its new leader. To say that there are high expectations from President Hichilema to turn around the fortunes of this country, is an understatement. The weight of expectation will be heavier than all other leaders in previous democratic turn over of power.”