Flash back: Given gives us hope for a better Zambia

Read how Fred Mmembe and his Post newspaper change positions. Here is how they praised Given Lubinda not long ago. Article here

By The Post
Sat 18 Feb. 2012, 12:00 CAT

SELDOM have we heard a Zambian politician present such solid and eloquent reasoning concerning the fight against corruption in our country as Given Lubinda did on Thursday this week.

Given, our country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, told diplomats accredited to Zambia that the government through the fight against corruption is setting a stage for the current leaders to be called to judgment when they leave office.

He explained that they were aware that the fight against corruption they have embarked on would also follow them when they leave government. “Some people have said that by digging up issues of corruption, we must be alive to the fact that he who digs pits falls in them.

We are alive to the fact that we are digging these pits because we ourselves in this government are called by our society to be exemplary. We are aware of the fact that what we are doing now shall also follow us.

So this fight is not against any particular individual, it is against corruption and we are setting a stage for us too, when our times comes to be called to judgment,” Given eloquently and with rare simplicity and honesty explained his government’s fight against corruption to his audience of diplomats, emphasising that the process of fighting corruption which Michael Sata’s government had embarked on was not meant to persecute any particular individual or groups but to restore confidence in the government system.

Given’s maturity, seriousness, wisdom, honesty and courage gives us a feeling of security and great confidence in the future of our country. What a wonderful outlook our country has with its future in the hands of political leaders like these! Whereas others are afraid of taking decisive action against corruption for fear of being subjected to the same treatment, Given is saying they should set standards by which even they themselves should tomorrow be judged against.

This is the selfless leadership the Zambian people are seeking and truly deserve. We have seen politicians who have bent backwards, changed roles and practices to accommodate corrupt elements from the previous regime. We have heard politicians who shout on top of their voices against prosecuting leaders from the previous regime and who see this as victimization, as setting a bad precedent and as vengeance.

We have heard some people calling themselves leaders of the people who see something wrong with prosecuting someone for two bicycles that are suspected to be part of a lot that was acquired with stolen public funds. Anyway, probably they are used to stealing big themselves – they themselves are big conmen. But we have politicians like Given who are not seeking protection for themselves, or for anyone else, after leaving public office.

Instead, they are telling us that we should deal with them in accordance with the standards they are setting for the nation today; they are telling us to judge them by their own words.

This is the way things should be because the individual does best in a strong and decent community of people with principles and standards and common aims and values. We cannot protect the ordinary against the abuse of power by leaving them to it; we must protect each other because this can only be done together. For our politicians, there is no choice between being principled and unelectable; and electable and unprincipled.

There have to be values and standards for all to follow. What we are hearing from Given is what happens in a society when values are regained, when principles are once again seen to be valuable.

We have to always strive to do the right thing, to adhere to principles even if it calls for our greatest efforts. And the time is always right to do what is right.

We need leaders who are demanding of themselves because they cannot call others to virtues which they themselves do not make an effort to practice. The fight against corruption must include their own decisions and actions. Justice begins at home and they themselves must be the first to give witness.

They must respect themselves and be exemplary in their daily lives and dealings. They can’t lead anyone else further than they themselves have gone. No one is fit to command another that cannot command oneself.

A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not. The standards of honesty and accountability in public life that Given and his colleagues are setting cannot be just for others; they will also cover their own conduct.

They are not exempt. If they engage in corrupt activities they will be dealt with in the same way. The only way they can avoid being prosecuted for corruption is by keeping away from corrupt activities, by not abusing the power they possess to enrich themselves and their associates. And the greatest proof of virtue is to possess boundless power without abusing it. Power is the ability to do good things for others.

The stand taken by Given contrasts very well with that of Rupiah Banda and his allies who believe that to prosecute politicians who had abused their offices and public trust is unacceptable vengeance or retribution.

We saw how Rupiah “cleared” Frederick Chiluba of his corruption charges. We are also today hearing some opposition elements who have been working with Rupiah, who are in a political alliance with him, regurgitating a similar line. This is perpetrating corruption by setting standards and practices that encourage impunity.

The right thing would be to demand the prosecution of every person who has engaged in corruption instead of seeking exemptions for them. But this is what happens to politicians when they have lost their bearings, when opportunism has taken them over and they have lost all principles, values and standards required in a decent society.

The future of this country will never lie in the hands of defenders of corruption and corrupt elements like these. It will always lie in the hands of selfless individuals, those who are willing to be punished for transgressions against the public like Given.

It is leaders like these, whatever their other shortcomings, who deserve our respect and support. Given is right and deserves support. He is truly showing leadership of a very rare and high quality.

This needs to be encouraged. These are the standards, values and principles we should all strive for. This is the only sure way to a more just, fair, humane and prosperous Zambia.

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