Throughout the public discussion forum last Friday, State Counsel Musa Mwenye and his learned colleague Professor Oliver Saasa never mentioned the Patriotic Front as they condemned corruption. They talked about areas of weakness in the governance of the country and shared tips on how corruption can be fought without naming or accusing any individual government official of corruption. In fact, they gave examples of corruption scandals that are already in public domain.

So, we are shocked that the Patriotic Front secretariat has jumped so high in panic and desperation to defend the government against remarks made by State Counsel Mwenye and Prof Saasa, when none of the PF secretariat officials were named during the event. The only thing that makes sense is that the corrupt are disturbed by these remarks and they are trying to defend one another. Innocent people in this PF government have no issue with what State Counsel Mwenye and Prof Saasa said, and they will say nothing because the topic doesn’t preach to them.

We say this because, even assuming that, indeed, State Counsel Mwenye and Prof Saasa were to accuse the PF government of being corrupt, would they be the first ones to make such an observation? Is it not President Edgar Lungu himself who said his own Cabinet ministers were depositing colossal sums of unexplained money into their private accounts? Didn’t the President tell the public on national television that the Anti-Corruption Commission was sleeping while his ministers were stealing public funds?

So, why are State Counsel Mwenye and Prof Saasa being demonized for condemning corruption? These two are saying corruption is a cancer and fighting it should start with an individual public officer. What exactly is it then that the PF is disagreeing with? What is making them uncomfortable about the statement below?

Musa MWENYE: “The corrupt are evil, and we must not glorify them by idolizing people who have just stolen from public office. I get amused when you hear stories from people about big buyers in these [night] clubs, why are public officials living like Jay-Z and Beyonce, flashing money around and so on? When we were in office, you would hide. Even if you have the money, it is immoral to keep spending money when you are serving poor people, we should be ashamed of that.”

State Counsel Mwenye is now asking very interesting questions, which the PF must answer. By attacking a statement such as the one above, is the PF secretariat saying the corrupt are Holy and must be idolized? Are they saying there is nothing wrong with stealing from the poor?

The same questions can be asked on behalf of Prof Saasa. His statement during the event was that: “As a democratic country, we do not use our democratic rights appropriately. You may not know who a good leader is until he gets into power, but when you are exposed to his misdeeds, you should show him the door. As part of civic education, learn to say goodbye to those that fail you in terms of expectation as leaders.”

Again we ask: by attacking Prof Saasa over these remarks, is the PF secretariat telling Zambians that they should not vote out bad leaders? Are they urging Zambians to worship politicians who promise to improve their lives, but end up stealing from them after they ascend to power? The PF must tell us so that we understand their defence of corruption.

They should not jump the gun and start talking about Dr Guy Scott and the instruments of power. They should not fool citizens with that rusty story about the power struggle that engulfed the PF after Michael Sata’s death, especially if they don’t want people to also talk about a lawyer thief who stole his client’s money. Those are old stories, which cannot put any food on the table for the people of Zambia. The issue here is corruption and how citizens are suffering because those they elected are stealing. If those who speak are all failures, whom will the PF listen to?

And it is laughable that Honourable Mumbi Phiri, of all the people in the Patriotic Front, would be the one to call these two eminent public figures as failures. We are not even sure what criteria the PF uses to determine failure because, for example, they are talking about a lawyer who has been bestowed with the status of State Counsel, has been LAZ president before, Solicitor General, Attorney General; a barrister in England and Wales; Chairman of the ZIALE Council; Chairman of the Anti-Money Laundering Authority in Zambia and is now running his own private law firm.

If such a person is a failure in his career and success looks like ba mayo ba Mumbi Phiri, then Zambia is a very dangerous place for any sane person to live in!