By Eros Ilunga
The reported resignation of Msazala Member of Parliament George Lungu in the 4thDecember, 2011 edition of the Watchdog made very sad reading and begs the question, “How serious is PF on the fight against corruption?” One is left to wonder if the pronouncements about allergies to corruption are mere rhetoric. There are a number of actions that contradict what we are hearing PF saying and what they are actually doing. In this article I shall concentrate on those related to wooing opposition MPs.
The first was the resignation of Japhen Mwakalombe just days after winning the seat. When this was reported in the Watchdog, I thought it was mere speculation but lo and behold it was to be. This one was really disturbing as we were just coming out of the throes of a very exacting election. We have reason to believe that PF was behind this resignation as it was clear they wanted Sylvia Masebo in Parliament at all cost. (And mark my words it will not be long before she is given a ministerial position).
The greatest evidence was the appointment of Mwakalombe to the Foreign Service. What justification was there to reward this man with a job after he contributed to wastage of tax payers’ money? The only logical conclusion was that Mwakalombe was promised a job if he paved way for Masebo! Now that is corruption. In case the PF have forgotten, corruption is the giving of, offering of, receiving of or soliciting for gratification. In this case, PF offered gratification to Mwakalombe in terms of a job.
There were also overtures to Chipata Central MP Phiri with a view to asking him to resign in return for a Foreign Service job. Phiri reportedly declined the ‘corrupt’ offer. Now there is Lungu who has defected to the PF. This Lungu man may not be the last since it is becoming increasingly clear that opposition MPs who defect to the PF have nothing to lose.
Thus the 2.1 billion Kwacha question is how serious is PF on the fight against corruption? It appears PF only sees corruption if it involves MMD and its sympathizers. To turn a blind eye to acts of corruption that benefit one smacks of lack of principle. One is therefore left to speculate that the PF corruption drive is not based on principle but a gimmick to win public (and even donor) support. After all it worked for Mwanawasa. PF is a populist government and will employ anything that wins public support.
If PF is not behind these resignations and is allergic to corruption, they should be among the first to condemn these spineless MPs. They condemned MMD for creating unnecessary bye elections and wasting resources. Unfortunately even civil society is unlikely to condemn this. PF seems to be taking their popular mandate for granted as they know at the moment very few voices will be heard condemning such wastage of resources.
I implore PF to live by its pronouncement of zero tolerance to corruption; WALK THE TALK! Otherwise PF may fall in the same trap as MMD of taking people for granted. We do not want the don’t kudabwa claim to become a reality.