PRESIDENTIAL Affairs Minister Honourable Freedom Sikazwe has responded to concerns raised by former Attorney General Musa Mwenye State Counsel, who says the performance of the government of President Lungu in the fight against corruption has been below par. In his argument, State Counsel Mwenye had said: “The performance of the government of His Excellency the President Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu in the fight against corruption has been below par. In fact, the attitude, statements and conduct of our leaders has been to protect and shield the corrupt rather than fight corruption. Instead of speaking for the poor, our government which was initially supposed to be a pro poor government, has been defending the corrupt thieves who have been stealing from the poor people of this country.”

To this, Honourable Sikazwe said if there is corruption, it is not President Lungu to blame because it is not the job of a Head of State to investigate corruption. Instead, he said the blame must be thrown on the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) who must be pressurized to do their job. The Minister added that there is nothing the President can do about corruption if there are no convictions.

SIKAZWE: “Can you tell me anyone who has been investigated and found to be corrupt and they are still in government? If there is no one convicted as a result of corruption, it is very difficult for the President to do anything. You know the wings that are supposed to investigate corruption now you are putting pressure on the President. Is it the President that is supposed to investigate? Those guys are supposed to investigate, then bring the reports to the President that Sikazwe is involved in this and if the President does not act, then you can say the President is negative on the fight on corruption.”

Our opinion is that Honourable Sikazwe is saying what he is saying because he is employed to say so, not because he believes in what he is saying. Mr Sikazwe is the best placed citizen of this country to know that the President does not mean what he says and he is not a fighter of corruption. President Lungu condones corruption, President Lungu defends the corrupt, he has been shielding them from the time that he became President of this country.

We are not speaking from without, it is not a long time ago when President Lungu was threatening the same Anti-Corruption Commission which Honourable Sikazwe is telling us to mount pressure on.

In August 2020 while touring a project in Ndola, the President said the following words:

“I have always said that the fight against corruption is anchored on politics trying to get rid of government and those who are doing well. They know where corruption is happening but they don’t even dare to go there because all they want is to get Edgar Lungu out of power.”

In essence, the Head of State was saying the government wings that are charged with the responsibility of fighting corruption are targeting people who are close to him, people who are in his inner circle, people who are friends of his, because according to him, they are after removing him from power.

He says the corruption fight is all about politics! How can you credit a Head of State who speaks like that with a medal for being an anti-corruption hero? This is a direct threat from a Head of State to an investigative wing.

In fact, as a newspaper publication we told the people of Zambia why the President was unhappy with the Anti-Corruption Commission, why he was angry with those charged with the responsibility of fighting corruption.

The happenings prior to this statement from President Lungu were that the investigative wing was actually following up on an investigation involving two of the President’s best friends. One of them was Mr Clever Mhpoa the owner of Savenda, the other was Mr Paul Moonga, the ruling party’s provincial chairman for Lusaka.

These two individuals were facing corruption allegations and the Anti-Corruption Commission summoned them for questioning. These are facts that neither the Savenda boss nor Mr Moonga could dispute.

Can you call such a President serious in the fight against corruption? NO!

Like we said, Honourable Sikazwe is saying what he is saying not because he believes it, but because he is employed to say so.

We want to remind Mr Sikazwe that this is the same President who shortly after ascending to power around 2015, was written to by the Anti-Corruption Commission. We remember that then ACC director general wrote to the Head of State informing him that his political adviser Mr Kaizar Zulu had received US$200,000 from a Chinese investor to fix an appointment with the President.

What happened in this situation is that the editor of this newspaper, who was at the time working at the Post Newspaper was arrested and charged with the offense of publishing ‘classified information’. The editor of News Diggers was accused of committing a crime by publishing the contents of the letter which the ACC had written to the Head of State telling him about corruption right in his office.

Instead of acting on the corruption allegations, instead of asking ACC to go ahead and prosecute the matter, instead of asking the ACC to investigate, arrest and prosecute his political advisor Mr Kaizar Zulu, the President unleashed the police on the news reporter who had told the public about that development!

How can a President like Mr Edgar Lungu be respected as a fighter of corruption? Which corruption is he fighting? What corruption can the ACC fight if the Head of State doesn’t want them to do their job?

State Council Mwenye is very specific about his concerns. He is reminding the President that citizens who are patriotic in the fight against corruption, those who are condemning corruption, those are against thieves in government ought not to be fought. They must be celebrated, they must be patted on the back, they must be encouraged to continue demanding accountability.

This is a government that also says it is a waste of public resources to fight corruption which ends in no convictions. We recall that last year the chief government’s spokesperson Honourable Dora Siliya said what’s the purpose of engaging in this corruption agenda when it is not yielding any convictions?

She challenged those who were complaining about corruption to point at anyone who was being convicted of corruption.

That tells you how these leaders perceive the fight against corruption. To the PF it is a waste of public funds and it is not worth it.

What Honourable Sikazwe is talking about is utter nonsense. We appreciate him having a voice on this matter because that is what national dialogue is about.

The fight against corruption is not about one person, it is a national issue which involves those who are inside and outside government engaging in debate.

Honourable Sikazwe has every right to defend his President, himself and all the corrupt in government because they are eating together, but there is no sense in whatever he is talking about.

We look back at Honourable Freedom Sikazwe with a reciprocal smile that he deserves and respectfully telling him, Sir, what you’re saying is nothing but nonsense.

Corruption has reached alarming levels in the Patriotic Front. It has been nurtured, it has been institutionalised. They don’t even call it corruption anymore, they call it legal corruption.

Shame on those who are protecting the corrupt. Shame on those who are shielding thieves. As a newspaper, we agree with State Council Mwenye in saying that we should not glorify criminals in government. Corrupt politicians are pick pockets, ndi afisi, bo kabolala, ba pompwe!