Fight against corruption must intensify

By Chabu Kangale

I have read with interest the letter addressed to the Inspector General of Police and copied to several national leaders written by a former MMD member of parliament and Deputy Minister, Mr. Alfred A .K. Ndhlovu, which was posted on the Watchdog website on the 4th of January 2012 respectively.

The call by Mr. Ndhlovu to have “all charges leveled against former MMD leaders […] be dropped forthwith as they are inflaming strong emotions of hate, harassment and persecution” is shocking to say the least. He seems to have reached this conclusion because he does not want former MMD leaders to suffer in poverty as those ministers that were in the Kaunda leadership. He would like former MMD ministers to be left free to enjoy the wealth they have acquired regardless of how they acquired it.

In his philosophical view of the fight against corruption, the police are behaving like the Kaunda regime. He says, Dr. Kaunda’s Special Investigations Team on the Economy and Trade [SITET] was very notorious in harassing people with property suspected or believed to have been acquired improperly or may be illegally. This appears to be the mentality which Zambia Police holds even today!” He argues that the Chiluba era freed Zambians; they now work hard to earn a living, possess property – for which they should not be prosecuted.

His assertion is that finding 1,000 bicycles at someone’s home – bicycles which should have been with campaign teams as he claims – or finding a K2billion buried in the ground is simply a result of hard work that should not be investigated at all – because Chiluba liberalized the economy. He says “Former leaders in the MMD Administration worked very hard, both for the country and themselves. They earned salaries, allowances, gratuities/pensions and other fringe benefits. Surely, how can they fail to buy bicycles for their constituents or campaigners? The cost of bicycles averages K500,000 apiece. Can building a posh motel, lodge or hotel be impossible in more than five years of one’s service even in the face of mortgages and other loan arrangements?”

In other words, Mr. Ndhlovu is claiming that all the wealth that the former leaders have acquired is legitimate. Unfortunately he has not shown any proof of this. He simply suggests that it is possible for former leaders to build and own tones of wealth because they worked hard.

Such attitude is dangerous for the Zambian society. In fact it is the foundation on which corruption thrived under the MMD government – reason for which the police should actually intensify their investigations against former and even present leaders.

Although not all MMD leaders are corrupt, the last 20 years of the MMD leadership has produced more than enough evidence to increasingly probe former ministers, permanent secretaries, accountants and other civil servants that used the disguise of economic liberalization as a tool to abuse their power and steal money. What the police are doing is not to investigate every individual in the MMD. They are investigating people with whom they have sufficient reason to believe that the wealth they have was not legitimately acquired. Most of the people being investigated is as a result of complaints from the public or from the auditor general’s reports or from prima facie evidence available. This is perfectly legal, moral and human to do and it does not amount to harassment at all.

Mr. Ndhlovu conveniently mentions only two people under the MMD government that have been prosecuted or investigated (Kashiwa Bulaya and Simon Miti) – and in a torn of implied contradiction seem to suggest that all Permanent Secretaries be investigated because they are the controlling officers.

This sounds very desperate. For whatever reason, he has not mentioned other high-level officers in the MMD who have successfully been prosecuted such as former President Frederick Chiluba (London court judgment), Katele Kalumba (found guilty by the magistrates court – appeal still in high court) and Gladys Nyirongo (found guilty by the Magistrate and High court judges – not sure about her appeal to the Supreme Court) – to mention just a few.

The conviction of Zambia National Service Commandant Wilford Funjika, Zambia Army Commander Lieutenant General, Geojago Musengule and the investigations of Kapoko and others at Ministry of Health, and now the civil servants in Northern Province, whose property has been seized at the moment, negates the view that only ministers are being investigated.

Corruption is an evil in Zambia. It deprives Zambian citizens an opportunity to develop their country. It must be fought vigorously and intelligently. The assumptions by Mr. Ndhlovu that the appointment of the Attorney-General, Solicitor-General and Director of Public Prosecutions is aimed at settling old scores because the appointed individuals are “all men of known tiffs previously” which will “dictate how they will handle former MMD leaders who are being harassed and for whom they have been hired” is inflammatory and aimed at breeding national hatred against those offices.

These officers have just been appointed, there is no evidence whatsoever that they have been hired to fix the MMD. If people in the MMD store, they will be prosecuted; if people in the PF steal, they MUST and will be prosecuted. Investigating people against whom there is probable cause that the wealth they have was not legitimately acquired is not vexatious – it is actually prudent. If someone is innocent there is no need to worry. The MMD never cared about this of course, reason for which they removed the abuse of office clause from the Anticorruption Act.

The views expressed by Mr. Ndhlovu in his letter, breads a culture of corruption, it generates a society that is incapable of distributing its wealth successfully. People pay tax because they expect good social services. Tax is consideration in a social contract between the governed and the governors (citizens and the state). When a person pays tax, they are saying I have provided consideration (value from me to the state); in return I should receive good public health services, schools, roads, energy etc. This money should not end up in people’s personal pockets fraudulently through kickbacks, tenderpreneurship, bribes and the like.

The Auditor General’s report is awash with various misappropriations, unretired imprest and so on by former leaders – facts the Rupiah Banda led government conveniently ignored. Should the PF simply turn a blind eye on this as Mr. Ndhlovu suggests? I think that is national suicide – there would be no point in changing government.  As a country we need to allow the legal and judicial processes to take course against corruption. Getting emotional about it because you are a former leader that wants to escape investigations is injurious to society, inhuman and vexatious.

I only pray that Mr. Ndhlovu in being an apologist for former MMD leaders will realize that the fight against corruption is meant for the good of all Zambians particularly the poor who are denied services because of corruption. Every reasonable Zambian should support the fight against corruption. All people who have evidence that Permanent Secretaries, ministers, directors, accountants etc within the current PF government, people private sector and civil society are abusing their power, are being corrupt, must report this to the police immediately.

The PF is not being selective in its war against corruption – we are very lucky they have taken on the fight against corruption as their priority. They are fighting against any person – including PF members and leaders – who is using corruption to earn a living. Let us seize this moment to rid off this evil, this scourge that has contributed to poverty in Zambia. Let us support the fight against corruption.

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