In commemorating Africa Freedom Day, President Edgar Lungu challenged Zambians to be bold enough to confront things that have gone wrong in the country and Africa in order to enhance the fight against corruption.
President Lungu said Zambia and Africa need to do more to put a stop to corruption because it robs the country and continent of its development, security and stability in ending poverty and improving the welfare of people.
“As we commemorate Africa Freedom Day, we must also be bold enough to confront the things that have gone wrong in the Africa and the Zambia of today. There should be no room to celebrate or abet vices that weaken the cohesion and freedom of our people and our country. Whilst celebrating our cultural identity, we should not take pride in vices such as tribalism, corruption and lack of patriotism and integrity,” said President Lungu.
While our Head of State was feeding us this message, South Africa’s newly-elected President of ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa was equally castigating corrupt elements in his government and in the private sector. This was when he delivered his closing remarks at the 54th ANC national elective conference.
“At the state level we must confront the reality that critical institutions of our state have been targeted by individuals and families, through the exercise of influence and the manipulation of governance processes and public resources. This has led to the weakening of our State-owned enterprises whose governance structures need to be revamped,” said President Ramaphosa.
These two speeches were addressing the same problem, but only one of the two leaders was genuinely committed to the pronouncements he was making.
The other was fulfilling the obligation of reading what has been written for him. Zambians and South Africans, both at leadership and citizen level have very different approach towards the fight against corruption.
In recent months, South Africa has shown our continent how far a united country with patriotic citizens can go in bringing perpetrators of corruption to book. South Africa has demonstrated that no one, not even the president, should and can be above the law. The aggrieved people of South Africa could not let Jacob Zuma to finish his second term in office because they realized the Olympic pace at which corruption was racing in his administration.
This is not the case for Zambia. In our country, we have taken the fight against corruption with a very dangerous casual approach. Considering the miniature size of our economy, it will not be long before our nation collapses into a failed state.
President Lungu is right when he says we must be bold and confront the things that have gone wrong in Zambia and stop taking pride in vices such as corruption. But the only problem is that he does not detest corruption.
In the recent past, we have exposed high-level corruption in our country, abuse of office, smuggling, theft and embezzlement; particularly under the PF government. But President Lungu has never taken interest in any one of the cases. The few moments that he has, it has been to defend the vices and to plead innocent.
Like South Africa has done, Zambia needs to deal with the ‘perceptions and realities’ of corruption from a state capture point of view; and the best way to fight State Capture is to expose it by institutionalizing public pressure.
We desperately need a Commission of Inquiry to investigate State Capture in this country through a public hearing; under the following terms of reference:
· To examine any and all financial transactions and source of income of any government official and State House staff in Zambia and any country abroad, particularly in the United Arab Emirates, India, Pakistan, Mauritius.
· To investigate the veracity of allegations of land purchase in Swaziland by the President, Neira Investments Ltd, Delta Energy Ltd, Grandview International Ltd among others whose corruption allegations have been published in the media.
· Whether the president or any member of the executive‚ public official violated the Constitution or any relevant ethical code by facilitating unlawful awarding of tenders by State Owned Enterprise’s or any organ of state to benefit any individual or company.
· Whether the President, any member of the Cabinet and or public servant unlawfully intervened in the matter of procuring loans and or government guarantees.
· The nature and extent of corruption in the awarding of contracts and tenders to companies‚ business entities or organizations by government departments‚ agencies and entities. In particular‚ whether any member of the executive‚ public official‚ functionary of any organ of state influenced the awarding of tenders to benefit themselves‚ their families or entities in which they held a personal interest.
· Whether‚ and to what extent and by whom attempts were made through any form of inducement or for any gain of whatsoever nature of influence of the President, Cabinet Ministers, Presidential Assistants and advisors and office bearers and/or functionaries employed by or office bearers of any state institution or organ of state or directors and management of the boards of State owned companies.
· To investigate the veracity of corruption in the awarding of contracts for the supply of fertilizer, oil, fire tenders, the Lusaka-Ndola dual carriageway, digital migration and procurement of ambulances among other vices.
· To pursue extradition of any individual who may have fled.
With a guaranteed witness protection policy put in place, bringing these matters into question through an open Commission of Inquiry would change people’s attitudes towards corruption. This is what we need to do as a country. Fighting corruption through speeches at State events such as the Africa Freedom Day is nothing less than foolish rhetoric, just as useless as it is to demand accountability only through Facebook.
The greedy people involved in this corruption are very united. They plan how to loot and how to get away with it. They collude to swing public attention when one of them is caught up in a scandal. But Zambians; the taxpayers, the church leaders, the media are fragmented.
The corruption in PF is not a perception. It is real. We only have one country and if we don’t stand up to rescue this land from the hands of the greedy, our young generation is doomed. There will be no country left for them because the corruption we have witnessed in the recent past makes the late Frederick Chiluba look like a petty thief.