Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) Chapter President Sampa Kalungu has said the fight against corruption in Zambia has not been very impressive in the past decade.
Commenting on the 2022 International Anti-Corruption Day, Mr. Kalungu said it was unfortunate that Zambia is ranked 117 out of 180 countries on the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International.
He said Zambia’s ranking on the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International is not something to be proud of.
Mr. Kalungu said Zambia must not be the weak link in the fight against corruption in Africa and the world.
“No stakeholder, no nation and definitely not Zambia must be the weak link in the fight against corruption. The past decade, for Zambia, has not been very impressive in so far as fighting corruption is concerned as figures can show. Zambia is ranked 117 out of 180 countries, according to the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International. This is not the record to be proud of. According to the 2020 Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), Zambia ranked 21st out of 54 African countries in good governance and democracy, that is just average and that is not the place we want to be, just average. The 2022 International Anti-Corruption Day (IACD) seeks to highlight the crucial link between anti-corruption, peace, security, and development. At its core is the notion that tackling this crime is the right and responsibility of everyone, and that only through cooperation and the involvement of each and every person and institution can we overcome the negative impact of this crime. States, government officials, civil servants, law enforcement officers, media representatives, the private sector, civil society, academia, the public and youth alike all have a role to play in this,” Mr. Kalungu said.
He said one of the biggest challenges to fighting corruption is the corruption that is perpetrated by foreign businesses.
“Transparency International in its 2022 Exporting Corruption publication shows bribery of foreign public officials by multinational companies gives them illicit profits, with huge costs and consequences across the globe. It further notes that foreign bribery diverts resources, undermines democracy and the rule of law, and distorts markets and buys undue influence over government decision-making in favour of major multinationals. In addition, the report shows that big economies are major exporters of corruption amounting to over 2 percent (which is roughly US$500 billion) of world trade. In terms of enforcement, the report found that only 2 of 47 top exporting countries actively enforce against cross-border bribery showing that since 2009, enforcement against foreign bribery hit historic lows. These issues are critical issues of concern and the world needs to rise to the occasion if the world has to collectively demonstrate effectiveness in the fight against corruption,” Mr. Kalungu said.
“The other challenge regarding world corruption is illicit financial flows, which find their way in different jurisdictions. The United Nations Human Rights Office notes that among the factors that restrict many countries’ capacity to take steps that can put their economies, societies and people on a more sound footing are high levels of capital flight, and illicit financial flows – including tax evasion and tax avoidance; money laundering; and the transfer of funds arising from bribery, corruption and criminal activities. UNCTAD has found that illicit financial flows (IFFs) could amount to billions of dollars every year. By eroding the tax base, and discouraging public and private investment, they strip societies of vital and scarce resources, which are indispensable for the structural transformation, economic growth and sustainable development of all countries. They thus pose a direct threat to people’s ability to exercise their human rights, including the right to development,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Kalungu has praised the efforts to trace, freeze or seize stolen assets across borders saying they have become significantly more effective in recent years.
“The Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative run by the World Bank and UNODC found a marked increase between 2017 and 2021 in cases where funds stolen by corruption were traced and recovered. The number of States pursuing cross-border asset recovery in corruption cases is also growing. Since 2010, US$ 9.7 billion in corruption proceeds have been frozen, seized or confiscated in their destination country – or returned to the country where they were stolen. This is as it should be and the call for a united front against corruption as outlined in this year’s theme is spot on. Nations world over should step up their efforts against corruption but in doing so, they should ensure that these efforts do not themselves infringe on human rights,” he said.
Mr. Kalungu, however, said TI-Z is concerned by the delays in the finalisation of the National Anti-Corruption policy, which should set the tone for anti-corruption strategies.
“We appeal that this process be expedited. We are also concerned that despite the heightened fight against corruption demonstrated by the government, there does not seem to be a clear strategy to galvanise collective action, encourage stakeholders participation and decentralize anti-corruption to lower levels of society. As long as this strategy is nonexistent, it is very difficult to mount a sustained call for a united fight against corruption at national level. To this end TI-Z hopes the whistleblower Act can be amended to strengthen the protection of the whistle blower who is the major source of corruption intelligence. We further wish for legislation for the political party and campaign financing which may also be a conduit for illicit money and may possibly lead to policy and state capture. Beneficial ownership laws can help trace and curb illicit money movements, we hope Zambia will take interest in legislating such,” Mr. Kalungu said.
He added that the government, through the ACC, has to ensure the fight against corruption does not have a face or recognize a face; wherever corruption exists must be fought.
“Citizens, who are crucial in this fight, must be encouraged and assured of a good and just fight against corruption, will not participate in the fight. While we should not lose focus on BIG corruption that involves BIG business and government, we should not lose sight of the consequences of allowing corruption to be endemic in our nation. When corruption is allowed to be part of our culture and life; the very fabric of a decent society is destroyed. When corruption becomes endemic in our nation. Do not be surprised when a building collapses and kills your loved ones because one person who was supposed to certify the safety of the building was corrupted. Do not mourn when you lose your child to a medical professional who injected your child with ‘water’ because they took the medicines to their private clinic. Do not be surprised when your crop completely fails because the agronomist who was supposed to certify your seeds was bribed by a seed trader,” he said.
Mr. Kalungu concluded: “Do not be shocked when your school going children or your church members perish on the road, which was done by a contractor who used cheap materials and poor standards due to corruption. The consequences and impact of corruption are not as far as we tend to think. Corruption does not just lead to loss of financial and other material resources. Corruption maims and kills our children, parents and other loved ones. Corruption makes countries ungovernable. Life becomes the rule of the jungle where only the fittest survive. As has been stated before, let us be united in the fight against corruption for the peace and prosperity we all strive for.”