Monday, February 26, 2024

New Leaders Needed to Tackle Corruption


By Henry Kyambalesa

While there is a noticeable scarcity of material and financial resources in the hands of the majority of citizens in Zambia, there is no shortage of pervasive and overwhelming socioeconomic problems one can write about. In this article, I have chosen to write about the scourge of corruption.

As chronicled by Transparency International (TI), a reputable global institution that monitors and reports on matters relating to the specter of corruption worldwide, corruption in Zambia has been increasing consistently during the years the Patriotic Front (PF) has been in power.

In the year 2015, for example, the country was ranked 76th in a scheme where countries ranked 1st represent the least corrupt countries in the world. In years that followed, its consistently worsening ranking was as follows:

(a) It was ranked 87th in the year 2016;

(b) It was ranked 96th in the year 2017;

(c) It was ranked 105th in the year 2018;

(d) It was ranked 113th in the year 2019; and

(e) It was ranked 117th in the year 2020.

There are many good reasons why we need to rally against the worsening incidence of corruption in our beloved country in spite of our different political affiliations.

Without delving into a discussion of the causes and prevention of corruption, which we can reserve for another day, we need to show government officials who are suspected of engaging in corrupt practices the exit door on August 12, 2021 through the ballot box, because such practices have negative impacts on our country’s economic growth, economic units, public expenditure, taxation policy, human rights record, public morals, and its overall image.

In May 1999, the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corrup­tion (GRE­CO) cited some of the socioeconomic ills as­sociated with the ubiquitous phenome­non of corruption in Resolution (99) 5 as follows:

“[Corruption] … represents a major threat to the rule of law, democracy, human rights, [and] fairness and social justice; hinders economic development; [and] endangers the stability of demo­cratic institutions and the moral foun­dations of society.”

Peter Eigen—the founder of Transparency International (TI)—has also provided an assessment of the pervasive impact of corruption on a country’s socioeconomic system:

“Corruption in large-scale public projects is a daunting obstacle to sustainable development, and results in a major loss of public funds needed for education, healthcare and poverty reduction, both in developed and developing countries.”

Kingsley Y. Amoako, too, has offered the following useful and general explanation of how corruption can negatively affect various spheres and facets of a country and its people:

“By reducing the amou­nt of public resources for development, it limits eco­nomic growth, discourages private investment and savings, and impedes the efficient use of government revenues and development assistance.”

Effects on Economic Growth:

In Paolo Mauro’s contention, a high level of corruption in public institutions in a country like Zambia can lead to the following potential effects on the country and its people:

(a) It can lower the incentive to invest by both local and foreign investors, because it has the same effect as a tax and, in fact, it operates as a tax;

(b) It can distort the dispensation of public services in a country in favor of individuals who have the wherewithal to bribe public officials and/or civil servants;

(c) It can induce public officials and civil servants to engage in self-remu­nerating activities rather than engage in productive activities designed to serve members of society;

(d) It can lower the quality of public infrastructure due to the awarding of construction and maintenance projects to less-competent, bribe-giving bidders; and

(e) It can divert public resources to less-important tasks, projects and/or programs simply because of the potential for such tasks, projects and/or programs to facilitate the extraction of high-value or hard-to-detect bribes.

Effects on Economic Units:

With respect to business and non-business entities, USAID and the Institute of International Economics have pinpointed the unsa­vory effects of the specter of corruption on their internal management practices, and the risks and systemic effects associated with the specter. The following is a brief description of the risks and effects involved in this regard:

(a) Deferring to corrup­tion can shape the mode of internal management. Jeremy Pope of Trans­parency International has summed up the effect of a business or non-business entity’s involve­ment in corrup­tion on its internal modus operandi in the following words:

“Corruption boomer­angs on the practi­tioner because once you establish a methodol­ogy in which your sales [personnel] … are trained in off-the-books accounts, non-accountable funds, and breaking the laws of countries with impunity, you cre­ate a situation where you have unaccounted-for money. You import an ethic of cor­ruption into your own organiza­tion.”

(b) In countries where laws are clear­ly defi­ned and strictly enforced, unscrupulous business and non-business practices can expose an organization to civil damages, criminal sanctions, legal fees, and/or impaired reputation.

(c) The scourge of corruption can consume a significant amount of a business or non-business entity’s time and resources which could otherwise be devoted to innovation and quality improve­ment in its commercial and/or indus­trial pursuits and endeavors. As such, it can adversely affect a business or non-business entity’s ability to compete effi­ciently and effectively in local and/or global settings in which its operations are undertaken. And

(d) According to Daniel Kaufmann of the World Bank Institute, corruption creates “an environment of uncertainty, inflates the operating costs of economic units and [also] re­duces their profit margins, and takes a toll in terms of time.”

Effect on Public Expenditure:

As Vito Tanzi has maintained, corruption can reduce public revenue and inflate public spending in a country; as such, it can contribute to a build-up of a country’s budget deficits as well as create the need for the country’s government to borrow heavily from local and foreign creditors in order to obtain funding intended for use in sustaining the day-to-day operations of its various agencies, departments and any other branches or organs of government.

Effect on Taxation Policy:

Corruption can make it difficult for a country’s government to generate a fiscal or taxation policy that is consistent with its revenue objectives and a policy that is also fair to all tax payers due to what is referred to as “state capture”—that is, a situation that occurs when business and/or non-business organizations make illicit and non-transparent private payments to public officials in a country in order to influence the generation of laws, rules and regulations, the ultimate purpose of which is to make the laws, rules and regulations more generous and benign to the business and/or non-business organizations.

Violation of Human Rights:

There are many ways in which corrupt practices can lead to violations of some societal members’ rights and freedoms, such as the following:

(a) By diverting necessities of life—such as food, clean water, healthcare, and education and training—from the poor and making them available to the rich on the basis of individuals’ ability to pay; and

(b) By denying individual members of society the right to free and fair participation in the political process through vote-buying, sponsorship of ruffians to harass members of opposition political parties, and the use of any other undemocratic means or measures.

Effect on Public Morals:

One cannot rule out the potential for male civil servants in a corruption-ridden country like Zambia to seek to cohabit with female clients as an inducement for the civil servants to provide requested services—a situation which can contribute to the erosion of public morals, as well as exacerbate the spread of infectious sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

An example of blackmail by a male government employee in the United States of America will perhaps underscore the possibility of such a state of affairs that, apart from being corrupt, can culminate into the spread of STDs and the erosion of public morals.

The example involves an adjudicator in a New York office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Isaac R. Baichu, who is alleged to have committed a felony and a misdemeanor by allegedly coercing a young woman from Colombia to perform oral sex, and of promising to help her secure immigration papers in exchange for further sexual favors.

According to Nina Bernstein, “the case [cited above] echoes other instances of sexual coercion that have surfaced in recent years [in the United States], including agents criminally charged in Atlanta, Miami and Santa Ana.”

Tarnished National Image:

Being perceived or ranked as a country with a high level of corruption can adversely affect a country’s ability to develop sound bilateral and multilateral relations with other countries. It can, for example, have negative consequences on diplomatic and economic relations which a country may seek to pursue with other sovereign nations.

For a country like Zambia that is in dire need of foreign aid, debt relief and/or technical assistance, a high level of corruption can prompt donor and creditor nations to be less forthcoming. Besides, the country’s citizens are likely to encounter problems in obtaining travel visas, and/or securing jobs or business contracts abroad.

In this regard, as Transparency International has noted, “extensive research shows that foreign investment is lower in countries perceived to be corrupt” as a consequence of such countries’ corruption-tainted image.

Concluding Notes:

Firstly, we should have unquestionable faith in the Anti-Corruption Commission’s statutory duty to handle cases of corruption nationwide and, accordingly, refrain from accusing other members of society as being corrupt or as having engaged in corrupt practices.

If anyone is suspected of engaging or having engaged in corrupt practices, he or she should be reported to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for investigation. Meanwhile, the person must be regarded as being innocent until a court of law establishes that he or she is guilty of having committed the alleged offence.

Secondly, we need to seriously consider the prospect of hiring new leaders to tackle the scourge of corruption in our beloved country mainly because the PF administration has lamentably failed to address the problem.

If we make the mistake of granting the Patriotic Front another term of office, the incidence of petty corruption, grand corruption, fraud, embezzlement, extortion, blackmail, favoritism, and nepotism will certainly skyrocket due to the uncertainty which government officials and civil servants hired by the ruling political party will face since the party will not field its current president in 2026.

In other words, civil servants and government officials will seek unscrupulous and self-remunerating ways and means of gaining access to public resources over the next 5 years due to the uncertain status of their employment in government.

Unfortunately, we still have some of our fellow citizens whose loyalty is to the PF and its leaders regardless of their failure to address the specter of corruption, and in spite of the fact that some of the leaders have actually plundered public resources. To such brothers and sisters, the party and its leaders come first, while the interests of our country, the common people and their own families are secondary.

Thirdly, I wish to conclude this article with the following quote excerpted and adapted from the now-defunct The Post Newspaper dated August 11, 2005: “[African leaders] … have not effectively, efficiently and honestly used their positions … to fight with heart and soul against the scourge of corruption … [partly because some of them get elected through vote-buying, vote-rigging, and other unscrupulous means].”

If I have succeeded in provoking a protracted and constructive debate on the theme at hand, I will go to sleep tonight a very happy man indeed.


  1. Firstly, I feel Henry lost his cedibility as a writer when he opely begun a personal campaign agaist the impostor in the UK known as Kaizar Zulu, it takes away the intellectual discourse and seriousness of his follow up articles.
    Secondly, I am not sure what Lusaka Times is becoming now, we have semi academic articles being published as news, that shouldnt be the case.
    Thirdly, despite Henry’s recital of references on effects of corruption, he comes to an illogical conclusion that overlooks the Zambian system. How can he ask that we “have unquestionable faith in the ACC”? seriouly, the same institution that publicly fails to handle corruption cases?

  2. Corruption tantrums and ranting that make the accuser cold feet to report to relevant institutions and help bring the accused to book simply amounts to an analogous account of the tale ” the boy who cried lion”. How are we to take you seriously when you ain’t got the guts to prove your claims. Alleging and claiming could be a form of corruption because you don’t have the evidence to substantiate your cra,zy ideas.
    Dear writer my question is When you sense corrupt deeds, what are you to do? How dare you come to the media empty handed? Why do you lose in court when you allege corruption? Are courts corrupt too? Srutinize your ugly self. No evidence = empty claim. You make me sick. Yuck!

  3. How do you tackle corruption when it’s an incentive that motivates these same leaders to enter politics in the first place? We know that successive governments have made it their priority to erode the institutions supposed to offer checks and balances to pave way for their corrupt practices. President Mwanawasa’s government tried in vain to deal with the vice but it was this PF government which hammered the last nail on the coffin of corruption. I don’t think you would have the likes of Chimbwili roaming the streets freely in the Kaunda or Mwanawasa era. The destruction of checks and balances is intentionally done because of the get get rich quick mentality we have.

  4. ECL, Is fighting corruption unlike mwanawasa who sold kcm at the price of a drink.mwanawasa spent millions of kwacha to proscute chiluba who stole less than the amount used to proscute him, dont you remember what George kunda said when droping the charges agaist chiluba. ECL Should be awarded as the only president who fought corruption tooth and nail.

  5. For me ECL has tried to develop institutions of governance in a very difficult culture and time of course there has been political expediency in some cases probably put in context we may be dealing with a worser evil that we may not be fully aware of and necessary resources were needed to counter it and then get back to nolmacy. Mwanawasa was a product of flawed elections but proved himself so similarly ECL has a legacy to preserve especially that KK has raised the bar too high.

  6. You simply can’t turn your back on corruption after being the beneficiary of it. We have seem how these politicians are driven by greed and the motivation to out do one another. The key to cutting out the vice is by strengthening the checks and balances beyond the President. The Zambian president has too much power. Maybe worth experimenting with ceremonial president and active prime minister. New laws to restrict government ministers from government tenders. Stricter due diligence to be done on civil servants. Stricter conflict of interest checks and pre defined packages for those aspiring to public service.

  7. Bill 10 contained a clause where it seeked to merge DEC, FIC into a specialised economic crime unit. The largest opposition in Zambia shot it down and celebrated by dancing and popping champagne at their leader’s residence. With such leaders, how can a country improve it’s anti-corruption fight??? Many, this author included, supported the opposition on that move, why complain now???

  8. The difference between RSA and Zambia is separation of powers in Zambia its non existent…the President is too powerful he personally appoints the Secretary to the Cabinet and then the PSs..its the same with Security wings.. just look at the Simon Miti’s profile the man is a doctor and used to work as Lungu’s senior Private Secretary at State House. Do you really expect such people to recommend credible PSs to the President apart from cadres? The whole system is reliant on the President if s/he has no stomach to fight corruption then forget about it.

  9. @9 #Tarino Orange
    But the separation of papers are such that even if they are appointed by the President , they are accountable to the public through the Public Accounts Committee in parliament. It’s necessary that the President appoint them because they are part of the executive so their mandate is to actualise the party manifesto as well as the policies of Govt of the day.

  10. Every Zambian knows corruption is rampant throughout the country, mostly within government or related institutions: you can’t get a driving license within paying a bribe, you can’t pass a police roadblock without paying a bribe, you can’t get a Zesco connection without paying a bribe, you can’t vote without paying a bribe, etc.etc. And it certainly has multiplied after Sata’s death and consequently with Edgar China Lungu coming to power. And the ACC? They are probably the most corrupt institution ever! PF: Lying about everything, not delivering anything!

  11. Good article but not accurate. @HenryKyambalesa, corruption is rampart everywhere in the world and only camouflaged by the different words used around it. I’ve in USA for almost 30 yrs and the corruption here is just as worst as that of Zambia but you never see USA close to Zambia in rankings. Over here, it is done at a slightly higher level, large scale and big numbers with different terminologies are you’re family with. Wake up Zambia, wake up Africa, don’t be fooled again like colonialism.

    (a) It was ranked 87th in the year 2016;

    (b) It was ranked 96th in the year 2017;

    (c) It was ranked 105th in the year 2018;

    (d) It was ranked 113th in the year 2019; and

    (e) It was ranked 117th in the year 2020.

  13. There’s no one who can fight corruption in the UPND. Those that engineered the theft of 2.0M cows from Zambia Railways are in the UPND. Those that have been mentioned in Panama Papers are in the UPND. We know these criminals

  14. Ayatollah: Can you cite the names of UPND members who engineered the theft of cows, and those who are mentioned in the Panama Papers? We need to know them. And if they are UPND members and were convicted for their crimes, I do not see how they can secure positions in government. By the way, theft, thieving, shop lifting, pilfering, robbery, burglary, and the like are not considered “corrupt practices.”

  15. David – PAC has no powers and whatever is said there can not be used in court…I watched Dr Chilufya’s PS in PAC there was so much daming evidence but ACC couldn’t even use it because again she is protected by Chilufya who is shielded by the President…$17 million disappeared in thin air.

  16. Henry, good ridence, the silly beard is gone. Did you know that corruption is endemic? This is how the Trump organisation operates. You are most likely a beneficiary of this vice. Leave America, come and fight this scourge. I’m afraid all Zambians including your chief have corruption in the DNA. So stop disgracing your persona. Don’t be an armchair footballer.

  17. @ Nkana Pa Kitwe,
    Stop lying by giving the impression that corruption in the USA is rampant than in Zambia. Yes, there is corruption in the USA called “LOBYING” but its regulated and by law, and you can not compare that to Zambian. With your 30years in the USA, one would expect you to provide accurate information and discourage the practise than you putting up statement that confuses. Even Denmark that is no.1 on Corruption Index, has atleast 1% of its public servants saying they paid some form of bribes. But you cant use that as an excuse for corruption in Zambia. Zambia is worse and situation is getting worser


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