ActionAid Zambia has said that the fight against corruption in Zambia seems not to be yielding effective results as evidenced in the decline in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI).
In a statement released to the media in joining the rest of the world in commemorating the International Anti-Corruption Day under the theme “Your right, your role; Say no to Corruption”, Action Aid Zambia said that Zambia’s CPI score has dropped by five points since 2018, indicating a rise in public sector corruption and that it is no secret that rampant corruption has resulted into limited access to public services.
Action Aid further noted that it is unfortunate that, in Zambia, most people who are involved in corrupt acts are not prosecuted and that the prosecution rate is very low especially among politically inclined officials and persons.
ActionAid Zambia recommended that the approach to prosecution should be governed by the following principle of dealing with all cases and that no case is too small to investigate and cases must be dealt with cases regardless of rank and status, and also deal with both givers and takers of bribes as they are equally culpable.
Below is the full statement
ActionAid Zambia today joins Zambia and the rest of the world in commemorating the International Anti-Corruption Day under the theme “Your right, your role; Say no to Corruption.” The International Anti-Corruption Day is celebrated annually on 9th December.
Fighting corruption is a global concern because corruption is found in both rich and poor countries, and evidence shows that it hurts poor people disproportionately. Corruption contributes to instability, high levels of poverty and is a dominant factor driving fragile countries towards state failure. In Zambia, the fight against corruption seems not to be yielding effective results as evidenced in the decline on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI). Zambia’s CPI score has dropped by five points since 2018, indicating a rise in public sector corruption. It is no secret that rampant corruption has resulted into limited access to public services.
Therefore, the 2021 theme entails that we all must unite in this hour of the Covid-19 crisis and share responsibilities to promote resilience and integrity at all levels of society. We saw how the Covid-19 funds were misappropriated which resulted in loss of millions of kwacha at the expense of the vulnerable people leading to poor access of health care and supplies.
Further, we have seen how complex corruption is becoming in Zambia mainly perpetrated by those entrusted to run the affairs of the country by the people for personal financial gain.
The Republican President, Hakainde Hichilema raised so many expectations regarding the fight against corruption looking at the increased number of cases that were reported after the 2021 August elections to the Anti-Corruption Commission. The new dawn government committed to a “zero-tolerance policy” on corruption and ensuring that perpetrators are held to account. They further committed to introduce specialized mechanisms to fast-track the recovery of stolen assets, as well as courts, focused on corruption and economic crimes.
ActionAid Zambia acknowledges that such commitments are progressive but if they lack action, they make the fight against corruption incomplete.
ActionAid Zambia notes that a prosecution is a major tool in the fight against corruption as it ensures that corrupt offenders are held to account through prosecution. Unfortunately, in Zambia, most people who are involved in corrupt acts are not prosecuted. The prosecution rate is very low especially among politically inclined officials and persons. Therefore, ActionAid Zambia recommends that the approach to prosecution should be governed by the following principles: (a) deal with all cases. No case is too small to investigate; (b) deal with cases regardless of rank and status, and (c) deal with both givers and takers of bribes. They are equally culpable.
A country determined to fight corruption must have the political will to change laws and the structure of government institutions, to not tolerate corrupt conduct, and to allocate resources to investigate and prosecute corrupt individuals. Thus, ActionAid Zambia is calling on the government to ensure that all international conventions on Anti Corruption are domesticated and Anti-corruption Act of 2012 is reviewed and amended considering the enhancement of the scoop of the Zambian anti-corruption related pieces of legislation such as the Asset declarations, Whistle-blower protection, Plea bargain and negotiations, Asset recovery (local and international) and Public procurement to mention a few.
Furthermore, there is an urgent need for more specialized training, covering especially forensic accounting looking at the sophistication and complexity of these crimes contrast with the broad lack of sufficient capacity and appropriate training of persons charged with investigating and prosecuting these crimes.
Lastly, the fight against corruption is not just for the Anti-Corruption Commission or civil society organizations, but the citizens as well must take the leading role by ensuring that they do not engage in corrupt practices. Remember, you have a role to play in curbing corruption therefore, say no to it for a better Zambia.
Nalucha Nganga Ziba
Country Director, ActionAid Zambia.