President Lungu with King Mswati of Swaziland during Zambia's 51st Independence anniversary Celebrations at Heroes Stadium in Lusaka on Saturday, October 24,2015 -Picture by THOMAS NSAMA
President Lungu with King Mswati of Swaziland during Zambia’s 51st Independence anniversary Celebrations at Heroes Stadium in Lusaka on Saturday, October 24,2015 -Picture by THOMAS NSAMA

By Kalima Nkonde

In his independence message, President Lungu pledged to fight corruption vigorously and stated that there would be no sacred cows. This has been welcomed by many Zambians of good will as corruption is among the top problems that the country is facing resulting in economic problems and retarding the development of the country. This commitment to fight corruption by the President has been long overdue and like my previous articles have stated, it was giving the impression that he tolerates corruption and had abandoned the PF’s compaign promise to fight the scourge. The President’s address to the nation could have been only the second or third time that he has mentioned the word “corruption” in his last nine months of running the country.

The President’s message, however, seems to suggest that corruption is all about civil servants getting bribes for providing services to the public which I found to be rather narrow and superficial. I , therefore, wanted to share with fellow Zambians that if the fight against corruption is to be successful, we need to have a deeper understanding of the different types of corruption so that the fight against corruption is broad based and not narrowed to those getting bribes as government workers!

For a start, it is important to define corruption as most people do not understand it. Corruption can be defined as the abuse of power by those entrusted with it for personal gain. It entails wrong doing by somebody who is in a position of authority through using his power illegitimately and immorally in order for him to personally benefit. The word corruption comes from the latin word Corrumpere which means to destroy or rumpere to break. Corruption, therefore, results in the decay of virtues and moral principles of a society. The effects of corruption hampers economic development resulting in the lack of faith and trust in both public and private institutions.

Corruption falls into three broad categories: bureaucratic, political and economic. President Lungu just touched superficially on one type of corruption and yet Zambia is faced with all three categories of corruption and so the fight against corruption has to be broad based and not selective. This article will briefly discuss the three broad categories of corruption found in Zambia so has to give a broader and better perspective to everybody.

Political Corruption

Political corruption entails politicians or state agents using their authority to sustain their stay in power and accumulate wealth. The examples in Zambia, include instances where wealthy individuals, multinationals, Parastatals have made financial contributions in order to assist the ruling Party to win elections. We have also seen in the past where the ruling Party at a given time uses state resources including money from treasury, civil servants like DCs, the army, the police and government vehicles for election campaign. The other form of political corruption is electoral fraud whereby votes are manipulated so as to predetermine the outcome of elections.

The latest form of political corruption in Zambia is the buying of voters especially during by elections by paying voters money so as to vote for a particular party. The PF and the previous ruling parties have also been involved in other serious forms of political corruption which is called patronage by favouring political supporters as opposed to the inclusion of other deserving Zambians whether opposition or independent. The PF has been appointing top officials such as Permanent secretaries, Judges, managing directors, board members of Parastatals etc not on merit but for their loyalty to the Party. The mess in the economy is one of the results of having low quality people in key positions.

Nepotism and cronyism is also another form of political corruption. This is where appointments to influential positions are made to relatives, friends and sometimes on the basis of tribe. This has led to mal functioning of many organisations and government departments and the PF has been very guilty of this since they came into power and President Lungu once acknowledged that there was too much nepotism in the civil service.

Bureaucratic corruption

This is the type of corruption the President was referring to in his speech which takes place on a daily basis which you are me are exposed to. In view of the bureaucratic system being slow and inefficient, officials solicit money in order to provide a service. Petty bribes are paid for passports, driver’s licences, resident permits, work permits etc. It is also common with the police service where people pay bribes in order to avoid paying a fine for committing an offence. We have heard of hilarious stories where a house wife of a policeman was happy by telling her friends : Nomba naifwe twakulalwa bwino pantu bashi Chilufya nababa transfer ku traffic( our family ‘s standard of living is going to improve as my husband has been transferred to the traffic department). There is an another story of a traffic cop coming home from a drinking spree and asking his wife what relish was there for lunch and when she said, it was vegetables, the husband said, “Mpela ukuboko ndeya panga impiya yanama pamusebo” (Please give me my arm sash so I go on the road to make some quick money for meat). This is a demonstration how deep petty corruption has permeated our culture as even children and wives know and are tolerant of it!

Another form of bureaucratic corruption involves the embezzlement of public funds. The public officers convert public money or resource for personal use. This could be the use of a subordinate to renovate his or her house or using government vehicle for private errands. Bureaucratic corruption can also entail a “kickback” which is the official share of misappropriated funds. The award of government contracts and tenders where tenders are not awarded to the best bidder and the government official who approves gets a kickback from the company for the favour extended. In Zambia, with all the massive infrastructure projects going on, this is certainly wide spread. I wish to point out that whichever country embarks on massive infrastructure like Zambia has had, it attracts massive corruption as accountability is low.

Economic corruption

Economic corruption involves where secret deals are entered into with multinational companies where by agreements are skewed in favour of the investor in exchange for a kick back. In Zambia, this has clearly been the case in a lot of instances because how does one explain how the export of earnings from copper (forex) by the Mining houses in Zambia do not come back to Zambia in their entirety but only amounts to pay salaries, taxes and a few local costs are brought back to Zambia and we expect the currency to be strong when they supply of forex is constrained by the mines? It is like the get dividends whenever they sell copper! The economic figures indicated in our statistics as export earnings are just on paper as not all the money comes back physically to Zambia.

The question is how where those contracts signed with the mines in the first place and who benefited personally? In order to put economic corruption in perspective, do we know the total value that the mines have exported since they were privatized? Or do we know the total remaining reserves of our copper underground?

Economic corruption also entails a situation where big tenders are unfairly awarded to children, relatives and friends of those who are in power and those awarded the tenders either do a shoddy job or do not complete the job they were awarded. As a result of this type of economic corruption, we have in Zambia, people who have become mega rich overnight who we can call Tender-prenuers and not Entrepreneurs as they became rich from tenders and not through hard work and innovation.

Why is corruption high and rising in Zambia under PF

There is no doubt that corruption in Zambia did rise a hundredfold during President Chiluba’s regime starting from 1991 with the privatization programme and only President Mwanawasa tried to contain it to a reasonable degree but from then on, it has been a downward spiral. The following are the main reasons why corruption in Zambia has continued rising:

  • The lack of investigative journalism and the absence of a vibrant and fearless privately owned press, television stations apart from The Post Newspaper, allows perpetrators to go scot free and not fearing exposure
  • The weak Civic Society and Non Governmental organisations who are more focused on politics than economics and do not monitor activities of government has resulted in Government officials not being afraid to behave corruptly because they know nothing will happen to them
    The weak rule of law in Zambia with a discredited and not independent Judiciary with the judiciary itself being suspected of being corrupt
  • The compromised Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) whose reputation has been damaged. It has also been accused of being inept and corrupt. The ACC is not respected in the public eye as it is alleged to be selective in prosecution, concentrates on petty corruption and small fish and gets instructions from appointing authorities. The Auditor General’s recent revelations about the incompetence of the anti corruption through losing files etc has not enhanced its reputation but damaged it.
  • The large and poorly supervised massive infrastructure projects such as roads, airports, power stations, schools, new districts awarded to foreign companies especially, have opened doors for getting kickbacks to those in power and their cronies.
  • The lack of political will and commitment at the highest level has given the impression that corruption is tolerated
  • The merging of the PF with President Rupiah Banda’s faction of MMD- after President Michael Sata’s death – which was perceived to be corrupt, has resulted in the PF being perceived as embracing the MMD’s culture of corruption and therefore tolerant of corruption.

Conclusion

I hope this article will make people learn about the different types of corruption, what it involves, and why we need to fight the scourge so as to minimize its negative impact on our society. Corruption should not just be targeted at petty bribes by civil servants but at the bigger fish including the multinational foreign investors who should be fought and exposed.I would advice the President that he should put more emphasis on political and economic corruption which do greater damage to the country. I would also urge him to put a stop to all manner of investors going to State house as the Country have better qualified institutions to handle investors than the Presidency.

The practice promotes temptation for corruption by his Aides through access fees. The idea of taking investors to his office also cheapens the office of the President and gives the impression that he condones corruption. I would also advice him to remove Road Development Agency (RDA) from State house if it is still housed there. I would encourage the President to continue this fight against corruption and prove it through his actions as the old saying goes: actions speak louder than words.

It may just be possible that the suspects for corruption may be right in his Party and even at State house itself and if a simple forensic audit was done on their personal balance sheets, they may struggle to prove that the wealth they have acquired in nine months or four years was genuinely acquired and is commensurate to their earnings.

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20 COMMENTS

  1. Stop thinking that Lunhu can fight corruption. He’s a product of corruption himself. The statement the man made was just written for him. He does not believe in it.

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    • @Suntwe, I agree with you Edgar doesn’t believe in anything. He has no vision. Now he he has decided to deceive the gullible Zambian with some Christianity..we are going to see all kinds of pastors proclaiming that Edgar is the anointed one….Lord help us

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    • This question on the contracts on the mines should be addressed to HH. He is the one that negotiated for all the contracts and sold the mines at an under valued amounts in order for him to get kick backs. He has failed to explained how he gotten his wealth. Let him come openly and explain precisely how has amassed his wealth then we will vote for him.

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  2. Results of massive Corruption in Zambia are there for all to see: Hopelessness, Poverty, Desperation, High unemployment, Underemployment, etc, in a Richly Resource Endowed Nation. It is time to start doing the right thing if we ever dream of a turnaround.

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  3. This Guy Lungu is “CORRUPT TO THE BONE”!!
    Why do Zambians perpetually live in a Dream world?? One does not need to be a Rocket Scientist to figure this out.
    This so called Leader of yours has;
    1. Embezzled Clients money in the past, leading to his Law license getting revoked, before it was corruptly reinstated. Who in Zambia is Not aware of this truthful fact??
    2. Holds the record of a Zambian President, possibly even African, for Pardoning thieving Officials / Politicians.
    3.Will go abroad, secure loans, Millions of U.$. Dollars, & attempt to conceal this. Where is the transparency of a proper Democratic Non Corrupt leader??
    4. Will charter an expensive aircraft, take with him hundreds of Dancers, lackeys, & Cadres, while Zambian women deliver babies on floors, & not even…

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    • Iwe Useless chi Chanda, What does HH have to do with any of this? Was it HH who said this or your corrupt Lungu let’s be objective here, I bet you’re in the USA now as a result of one form of corruption yourself No free thinking person can reason like you. Very childish.

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  4. Continued;
    attempt to explain or apologise.
    We need as Zambians to stop existing in a continual Delusional state!

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  5. It not only the whole of PF that is rottenly corrupt, but the opposition MP s seem to be complicite in this corruption by their silence. They must be getting kickbacks to remain silent. HH can you wake up your MP s and get them more involved in this corruption fight.

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    • I agree Patrick, I will Never delude myself in believing only P.F, is corrupt. The whole national barrel, is full of bad apples, bar a few.
      However in the case of our Leader Lungu, he like all of us has the right to make mistakes, so cannot hold a grudge about his past misdemeanors as a Lawyer.
      However President Lungu on taking office had the chance to write a new chapter, which should be what people judge him on.
      Unfortunately this partnership with ex Corrupt Leaders, & pardoning of convicted embezzlers does him no favours.
      Once one holds high office, one should lead an exemplary clean life, for example
      if I choose to become a Police officer, surely there are certain things one needs to give up, ie I cannot be a Dagga smoker, whist a serving officer, as I HAVE MADE THE CHOICE to…

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  6. HH is the worst corrupt thing this country has ever seen. His an explained wealth acquired within 2 years when other has working people took them over 10years to become wealth. No one miraculously gets that rich like hh in that short period of time never. This speaks volumes how he and chiluba swindled zambians and that’s why the guy has never been implicated in that privatisation saga because he store with the head of state.

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    • And you are the worst 1mbecile ever born in Zambia.
      As to getting rich in short time, to refresh your cadreism infected memory, Chikwanda, Sata, Sampa, Kambwili, Yaluma, RB, Dora ……………., in short three years from beggars to substantial real estate owners with bank accounts in million of US dollars..

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    • Kwena you’re very childish… If you have nothing good to say spongebob don’t say anything. Just look at what Lungu has done, MCS had RB under investigations, shortly after siding with Lungu RB is free, Dora suddenly is 100% PF and in Lungu’s camp. Lungu has quickly undone all the good works of the former 3 presidents in one year with his corrupt ways and today he’s the one talking about corruption?

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    • Yaba! Abena Sponge bob. You seem to have all the answers regarding HH’s wealth, why don’t you take him to court? If your Govt is failing to take HH to court, then they are either incompetent or are part of the stealing. You can’t have it both ways!
      The decision to privatise was MMD govts. They bear the responsibility. Full stop!

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    • The fact is HH is the majority shareholder of Zambezi sun formerly Intercontinental Livingstone Hotel. it was sold for a song to the third bidder! higher bids were rejected on HHs ‘advice’ and self interest opinions. HH used his dubious business minions to acquire state owned properties at ridicuoulsy low prices without declaring interest in the sale. He has on several occasions lamentably failed to accurately answer questions as to how he acquired his wealth. It is stinking dirty money not worth to admire. Come 2016 we shall expose further the rot the makes this Chief Tribalist HH, to finish him politically once for all. Most Zambians are Not too dull to reason logically!

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  7. Continued;
    serve as an officer, therefore Dagga smoking needs to go!!
    Its exactly the same with a President, as once YOU MAKE THE CHOICE to serve as Leader of the Nation, bad vices, & Corrupt acquaintances NEED TO GO FULL STOP!! One cannot serve two masters at a time.
    If you find Corruption difficult to eradicate from Your genes, You can pick it up once out of office.
    I guess only our President will make the decision whether to serve the Nation, or service Corrupt individuals, whilst making More Money for his Pockets.
    THE JURY IS STILL OUT!!

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  8. Corruption is evil, and Zambia is suffering because of corruption in all its institutions. If the President has noticed that and he wants to fight it, well lets give him the support and solicit for well trained Independent Investigators of high integrity who cannot be corrupted to handle such scourge, and off course we will need an independent Judiciary to try these corrupt people.

    The President needs to solicit for an independent inquiry commission or team, and an independent Serious Crimes Tribunal if Zambia is to fight corruption effectively.

    We do not want what happened sat the former `Task Force on Corruption where lots on money was spent in hiring private investigators abroad and to enrich a few locals, to spy and collect evidence which was inadmissible for use in courts just…

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  9. Then speak of what the UPND can do to fight corruption in Zambia. I don’t believe that they can effectively fight corruption because of nepotism and tribalism and enriching themselves illegally. Some UPND members have used their positions in the State, to rob others and thats their way of life and they call themselves rich after openly stealing from another in abuse of State machinery. So what corruption will they fight?? This country is headed for the worst if corruption will not be tackled, and I urge the President to ask for assistance from the UN, in setting up a team which will bring morality to this country in fighting corruption. He should not cheat himself that locals will be able to help him fight corruption in Zambia as it is now endemic. He needs assistance and its time he…

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  10. no one with unclean hands can lay a charge or sue another, but that seems to be the way of life n Zambia. By the president saying there should be no sacred cows, all those that committed corruption should be brought to book and held accountable. therefore an independent commission is better placed in helping Zambia to fight corruption. Not local Police officers or the command who have to processed for allegations of corruption and other serious crimes allegations against them. We have read what Kaizer said about the Acc, no one knows the capability of the DEC either, then the performance of former tfc prosecutors was not desired and some is questionable. So who is going to help The President fight corruption in Zambia?? Its time for him to ask for International experts to help him. this…

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  11. If never said what he said on corruption fight, he was going to be criticized. Even after making the most powerful pronouncements on corruption fight the UP aNd Down tribalist party is condemning him. That is why you will never rule this country. Don’t think we do not have voters cards. Come 2016 Lungu will surprise you.

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