OUR political leaders’ love for money and power is frightening and sometimes very embarrassing.
They are not ashamed to abuse their political power to extract and accumulate for private enrichment, and use politically corrupt means to maintain their hold on power.
Anyone with money and who is willing to give it to them when they need it is welcome no matter how dirty that money may be.
It is embarrassing to see how government officials and other senior public officers are falling over each other to get closer to Moses Katumbi, the governor of Democratic Republic of Congo’s Katanga Province.
Katumbi is not treated with so much attention and affection because he is governor of Katanga. It is simply because he commands immense financial resources that he is willing and able to put at their disposal as and when they need it.
That’s all that makes Katumbi so important that he can be even allowed to openly interfere in the internal politics of our country. Katumbi is not an ordinary Congolese citizen; he is a very senior government official of the Democratic Republic of Congo who should be bound by diplomatic rules.
Katumbi should not come into Zambia and do as he pleases as if he was a citizen or ordinary resident of this country. And moreover it is not right for senior Zambian government officials to personally get too close to a person who ran away from this country fearing corruption charges.
Katumbi was let off the hook not because there was nothing wrong he did but simply because during the time he was a fugitive he acquired a new status, he became governor of Katanga of a friendly neighbouring country. And dropping any intended charges against him was reasonably expedient in the circumstances of the moment.
But we know why the current government is so comfortable with Katumbi. Zambians have not forgotten why Vernon Mwaanga was fired from Levy Mwanawasa’s government.
It was because of his dealings with Katumbi that Levy did not find acceptable for a member of his government. Who also doesn’t know how close Katumbi was to Frederick Chiluba and his corrupt regime? Both Mwaanga and Chiluba are today very close to Rupiah Banda and his government.
Katumbi is very generous with money and he will certainly be of great value to them in meeting personal and political financial requirements. This is not because Katumbi has no use for that money in Congo. Despite that country having immense natural resources, the Congolese people are in general very poor. And theirs is a country without any meaningful development.
They have inadequate schools, hospitals, roads and other services required in an organised society. But instead of striving to meet these desperate needs of the poor Congolese people, Katumbi and his friends will not hesitate to go around flashing money, dishing out money to corrupt and opportunistic Zambian politicians, chiefs and other desperate characters.
Although the Congo of today is a thousand times much better than that of Mobutu, it still retains, in many respects, the characteristics of that kleptocracy. Those who govern do so in self-interest and in the most arbitrary ways.
They control and manage public affairs and resources as if they are personal ones. Like Mobutu, those who govern Congo today are the richest people in that country; they personally dominate the business activities in that country. As such, they have immense resources to use against weaker souls like our politicians and chiefs who are ready to hire themselves out to those with deep pockets.
This is not the way to run countries. And we urge the Zambian people to resist, oppose and denounce Katumbi’s interference in the affairs of this country. He made a fortune out of this country during the corrupt regime of Chiluba and he has gotten away with it.
Let it end there. Let him relate to this country with the restraint and the dignity expected of a government official of a friendly neighbouring country. It cannot be denied that the lives of the Zambian and Congolese people cannot be separated because they are bound by history.
We are linked by nature and we should be proud of each other by choice. But none of us should have the arrogance, including of money, to dictate to each other how each other’s country should be governed and who should govern it.
The Zambian people know Katumbi very well; they know who he is. But today this same Katumbi they know is governor of Katanga and whether they like it or not they have to accept that decision of their Congolese brothers and sisters. And it ends there. No Zambian has the right to go and interfere with that decision of the Congolese people, of the Katangese.
There are many things we don’t like about the way that country is governed. That is a country where the government is not in total control of every part of the country and its resources.
It is a country that is still being plundered by all sorts of mercenaries, crooks. Corruption reigns supreme in that country. Those in control of that country’s resources and money also set the political agenda and determine who should govern them and how he should govern.
We don’t want that to be exported to our country because for all our problems, we are far much better organised politically and otherwise than these brothers and sisters of ours. They actually need our help and inspiration in this regard.
If we allow characters like Katumbi to export the weaknesses of that country to Zambia where will the Congolese people turn to for help, for inspiration in their quest to good governance and in their efforts to develop their country to the benefit of all their people – not only Katumbi and a small clique that is today enriching itself from the resources of that disorganised country?
There is so much desperation for money. And this is leading to serious corruption, loss of integrity and abandonment of principles. The purpose of all this corrupt behaviour seems to be the sustenance of their hold on power – power preservation purposes.
And that’s why even here at home they are busy abusing their hold on power to extract from the private sector, from government revenues, and from the economy at large. They are busy embezzling public funds, rent-seeking, plundering.
They have no shame to embrace people who have stolen public funds in the hope that they will share with them the loot and the power that accompanies money.
Theirs are politics of favouritism and patronage; politically motivated distribution of financial and material inducement, benefits, advantages and spoils. Everywhere they are trying to use money to build political loyalty and support.
By giving preferences to companies controlled by people who are willing to put themselves at their service, they can get party and campaign funds. And by paying off governmental institutions of checks and control they can stop investigations, prosecutions of their allies and gain judicial impunity.
Furthermore, by buying loyal decisions from many institutions and tribunals and by buying votes they can secure their re-election. This abuse of public authority and power for private benefit needs to be stopped.
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