By Dr Given Mutinta
Please accept my warm congratulations on your victory and my best wishes for your success as you take up the new responsibilities of the highest office in our land.
Mr President, I wish to highlight one of the important issues your government should earnestly address.
I am referring to the issue of corruption; one of the biggest threats to the well-being of our country.
Mr President, lack of leadership has made Zambia fertile grounds for corruption. Consequently, service delivery has been degraded and ordinary people’s lives ruined.
All previous governments promised to fight corruption but their promises ended up as political lip service.
Mr President, the first question of great consequence your government needs to ask is why corruption is now widespread in this country.
Answering this question honestly will help your government to ascertain the roots of corruption and inform government’s lines of attack to prevent and deter corruption.
As you take on the mantle of leadership take time to address the peanut roaster salaries of the civil servants. Poor salaries impel civil servants to revert to corruption for more financial gain to survive the current bleak economic situation.
Mr President, Zambia is one the countries in the region with very low Job opportunities.
As a result, people are desperate for jobs hence go for corruption modes such as paying huge sums of money to politicians or government officials for job offers. Address the issue of lack of employment opportunities with urgency.
Deal with the lack of strict and fast punishment of people who abuse power. It is now common to see convicts get less punishment or pardoned. Some offenders are suspended and then re-deployed to other locations with same Job positions and salaries. Is this not giving these corrupt officials a free license to continue with corruption?
Under your leadership corrupt incidents should lead to permanent removal from job, and imprisonment. Those who deserve to rot in jail for corruption let them do so, a sure way of fighting corruption.
Mr President, do not appoint people with corruption related histories in prominent government positions. Having such people reduces the effectiveness of the fight against corruption. Appointing corrupt characters makes it hard to rebuke corrupt officials who are instead emulated by society.
In the same vein, fight criminal mentalities such as “ubomba mwi bala ulya mwibala” a Bemba saying translated as one who works in the field eats from the field or “ulida nzuki umyankuta minwe a Tonga adage explained as one who removes honey from the bee hives licks his fingers. With such cultural environments even the little resources your government will be trying to save will be abused.
Therefore take the lead together with social leaders to promote a positive culture that will work against diabolic philosophies that encourage corruption.
Be aware that you will preside on greedy people with an unfettered craving for wealth. A people with no regard whatsoever for moral boundaries caused by an impulse to have wealth not subjected to personal integrity.
Therefore, you will be a leader in a society where personal integrity is less valued than it used to be making corruption thrive.
Worse still, the unmatched corruption is happening in a so called Christian nation. This is a clear indication that there is a need not only for religious but other types of stimulus that are stronger to deter corruption.
Mr President, you will work with people with a decline of personal ethical sensitivity. This is mainly caused by lack of education and negative learning experiences that developed overtime for downplaying perverse conducts. For this reason, collaborate with different stakeholders to conscientise and conscioutise masses on the evils of corruption.
There is need for your government to critically review ethical education. Initiate anti-corruption programmes that will encourage sincere individual and societal reassessments and turning away from corruption. This may help people to learn about the influence of ethical education in promoting positive learning a good footing for fighting corruption.
Mr President, poor leadership has killed the sense of service in civil servants. Hence people in public institutions are now using politics for their selfish interests.
For this reason, assemble a team of leaders that will serve the common good through politics. Inspire in people a philosophy that will promote politicians and leaders with a true service- positioned spirit.
Your government should address the problem of very low awareness or lack of courage to denounce corrupt behaviour especially in public institutions.
Many people are aware of corruption taking place but prefer to remain quiet. The custom of covering corrupt individuals thinking that it is not their problem or perhaps out of cowardice will undermine your fight against corruption if not addressed. Promote a culture of denouncing corruption without fear and favour.
Address the issue of lack of transparency especially in government institutions. Put in place an effective operational act for right to information to stimulate transparency. This act should be strong enough to prevent malpractices.
Your government should rethink the current regulations and inefficient controls. Increase regulations and control mechanisms that are less costly without stifling initiatives and administrative dynamics.
It is high time we had better regulations and effective controls in areas susceptible to corruption.
The current slow judicial process needs a refit. In the present state, the judicial process is aiding the spread of corruption instead of putting off corruption.
Your government should instigate a swift judicial process with greater exemplifying effect.
There is no way we can have an effective fight against corruption with a judicial process that is so slow that by the time sentences come, crimes committed are already forgotten.
All the encumbrances that slow down the administration of justice should be removed.
If we need more judges or we need to clean up the whole judicial system for a better judicial process then put the necessary measures in place.
Not only that, we long for a judicial system that has high options to punish corrupt elements.
Mr President, people have been subjected to believe that moral criteria in promotions do not count.
As a result, lack of criteria for proven integrity and responsibility in government promotions is fueling corruption.
Therefore, the criteria of appointing those who will work with you should not only be based on loyalty to you or your party but integrity.
Do not ignore ethical assessments in your appointments because ethical shortsightedness propagates corruption.
Let your government deal with the current pathetic situation of lack of an independent Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). We need an ACC with independent detective officers with full power and freedom to expose the corrupt individuals regardless of their positions.
Mr President, to have a genuine fight against corruption you need to work with different stakeholders to address corruption from a multisystemic perspective that deals with personal, cultural, institutional and organizational environments that fan the embers of corruption.
In short, only an accurate diagnosis of the causes of corruption will bolster your government’s fight against corruption.