“The expensive clothes they wear and the luxurious cars they drive do not take away the fact that corrupt politicians are simply pick pockets or ‘ba searcher pocket’ who steal from us. Never dignify this criminality by giving these dishonorable people, honour they do not deserve,” says former Attorney General Musa Mwenye.
This statement says a lot of things. Corruption is a cancer that we ignore at our own peril. Societies that do not fight corruption are destined for ruin and failure. Many countries that have developed have done so because they have found a way to manage their national wealth in a manner that benefits the majority of citizens and not a small ruling clique.
Many of our people agree that we are not a poor country. But why are we wallowing in poverty? Of course this is a very complex question, and one that should not be approached simplistically. But when we look at our country, the one thing we must all agree on is that corruption is a huge cost. It has been said that corruption is tax on the poor. One of the most important roles that the government performs is to manage tax payers’ money. Their job is to ensure that the tax, the musonko that we pay, is used in the most beneficial and prudent way. This is their job, but this is not what they do.
We must agree with the former Attorney General for the Republic of Zambia, Mr Musa Mwenye SC, when he says we have corrupt politicians who behave like pick pockets, or ba searcher poketi, as they were called once upon a time. We seem to have a curse of having leaders who don’t care for the public that they claim to serve. Their approach to governing is defined by the philosophy of tuswemo, gwagu, nchekeleko. It’s about their stomachs, their luxury lifestyles. That is all that they care about.
This is what explains the rampant corruption that we are seeing today. These people are not after improving the living standards of ordinary Zambians, but themselves. Even the so called massive infrastructure development is nothing but a scheme to steal from our people. When you look at the cost of road construction, it does not make economic sense. The value of infrastructure does not relate to the cost or money spent.
This is why, as State Counsel Mwenye points out, there are so many scandals. Every government financial transaction is a scandal. It is as though these people go around asking themselves where are we going to get our next money. They simply don’t care.
It is important for our people to understand what State Counsel Mwenye is saying. The money being stolen is our money, it belongs to every one of us who is a Zambian. This is why we must not be glorifying these criminals by clapping for their achievements. Doing that is the same as clapping for a thief who comes into your house and makes away with your televisions set, and calling them clever.
We agree entirely. We must not glorify theft, when we see a minister in government or former minister or any other person connected to the powers that be, flaunting wealth on social media, we must not stop at admiring, we must ask how they acquired that wealth.
It is important that we realise that corruption is actually theft. It is stealing. The kind of corruption that takes place in our country today involved public officials accepting huge payments as commission on contracts awarded to businessmen to build infrastructure.
That is why you find a road that would cost the tax payers US$500,000 dollars per kilometer, ends up costing double. And who pays for the excess? It is the public. And when the public is being over charged, those who are over charging are stealing from us.
We need to understand that even the poorest Zambian who is unemployed is a taxpayer. He or she contributes to our tax revenue. Most of our people buy products on which they pay taxes. Anyone who jumps on a bus, or drives a car that uses fuel, is paying tax. Every litre of fuel that is consumed attracts some form of tax.
On the other hand, being born Zambian, we are all entitled to the resources that this country owns. We are shareholders of this entity called Zambia. When investors who may be mining our resources pay tax to the government, that money is expected to trickle down to the poorest citizen. The investors are paying rent to all of us. No one is entitled to abuse that money.
What bamudala ba kasaka ka ndala is managing is our money, not his. When they steal, as we know a lot of politicians are stealing, we are entitled to ask them ni ndalama za anyoko?