THE media is full of stories about leaders who lack integrity – men and women who, while leading, their focus is self-enrichment and preservation. We are reminded about this sad reality in our country when we read the condolences message on Dr Kenneth Kaunda by Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) Director General Mary Chirwa.

Chirwa says first Republican president Kaunda had strong systems in place that did not leave room for abuse of office and corruption, adding that what we see nowadays are efforts to weaken the systems for the few privileged to enrich themselves.

MARY Chirwa: “His Excellency the First President of Zambia Dr Kenneth David Kaunda had strong systems for starters that did not leave room for such but nowadays what we see are efforts to weaken the systems for the few privileged to enrich themselves. We ought to have a heart for mother Zambia. Only then can we have economic liberation. Greed has surely taken over. We have ubuntungwa, freedom to move about hungry, it is not enough. We need a mindset change and a heart that embraces real ‘One Zambia, One Nation’ values. It should not just be a slogan…”

This is a very important call that deserves to be heeded by all our leaders in government. A leadership that is corrupt, that only thinks of itself, that wants to enrich itself at the expense of the poor is a dangerous one and deserves to be repudiated and kicked out. Mary is right when she says that there are a lot of efforts to weaken institutions of government by the corrupt in Zambia.

Evidence of this is written all over state institutions. We have a country that has billions of dollars to pay in debt, and instead of sealing the loopholes, stopping wasteful expenditure, arresting corruption and the corrupt, our leadership is doing the opposite. They are willing and happy to abuse their offices and even creating room for foreigners to come in, steal our revenue-generating natural resources. When the economy collapses, they start pointing fingers in all directions, claiming the situation is global. This is what Mary is talking about.

Our leaders are stashing millions of dollars in offshore accounts when the people they are leading do not have even a ngwee. When a system ceases to promote the common good and favours special interests and corrupt elements, it is always enlightening to hear voices of reason such as the one from Mary. The FIC is making a very candid observation, but also offering very candid advice to all of us as citizens of this country. This comes the right time when we have seen a scramble for Zambia under PF.

The corruption and abuses of the current regime and those before this one calls on all of us to sharpen the awareness of our duty of solidarity with the poor and marginalised in society. This solidarity means that we must unite and speak with one voice when calling out leaders who are responsible for the situation that we find ourselves in.

The high cost of living on Zambia has little to do with the global economy, and more to do with poor leadership. Bad governance is what has cause high inflation, the depreciation of the kwacha, high interest rates, huge public debt and balance of trade deficit. They systems and controls which are supposed to keep the economy afloat, the systems and controls that are supposed to prevent corruption and abuse of office have all been sabotaged by the very people who should be protecting them. But we don’t want to admit that this is where the problem lies.

As Mary observes, shouting the Once Zambia One Nation slogan on empty stomachs is a form of injustice. This is not how our founding fathers meant it to be.