Corruption crusade

The Anti-corruption commission is totally compromised and has no capacity to fight corruption in Zambia, this was the message Member of Parliament delivered yesterday as they debated the vote for the Commission.  The MP’s condemned the selective manner in which the Commission prosecuted perceived enemies of those in power instead of pursuing corruption at the general level.

They were actually prevented from citing examples of high level corruption in government which has not been investigated by the ACC even where complaints have been made.  The ACC has instead concentrated on pursuing the opposition or indeed small people who have little or nothing to offer.

In particular the MP’s also made the point that the ACC was totally incapable of investigating public officers including ministers who were seen to be close to President Michael Sata.  They cited the letter written by Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba to the ACC on account of the investigation being carried out against him as a typical example of intimidation.

Parliament was correct and most certainly made very perceptive observations with regard to the extent and pervasiveness of corruption in modern day Zambia.

The most serious breach which has become a pandemic is single sourcing.  Most road contracts, some of tem fairly large have been single sourced and there is great speculation as to why this has been done, and it is not for a very good reason either.  Unfortunately the Road Development Agency which should be the lead actor appears to be a subservient and totally marginalized institution while at the dame time the public procurement authority is a non-starter. 

In other words procurement has become a political function and those dispensing contracts are not answerable to any authority or individuals.

Therefore the quality of work being produced will not only be mediocre but sometimes dangerous to users.  The point to make however is that whereas there have been public pronouncement regarding the PF wish to fight corruption, observers from outside have noted with great sadness and indignation that no effort has been made whatsoever, to drive a systematic campaign against the vice.

Therefore as the MP’s noted yesterday the allergy to corruption is simply a rhetoric not firmly grounded in the life and politics of this country.

Several things need to be done to make the corruption fight real and relevant.  Firstly it must be autonomous in the real sense of the word including autonomy from the Director of Public Prosecution. So that the body can itself initiate prosecutions without influence or sabotage from the DPP who might be compromised in one way or another.  Secondly the Commissioners must have security of tenure to ensure that they operate freely without any fear that the executive may turn to them in times when they are forced to issue instructions stepping on the toes of those who wield political power..

It is clear that without a focus and clear job security the Commission will remain a talking shop and at worst an ornamental symbol that is used by the executive to exact retribution against real and perceived enemies from the political arena.

Our advise is that parliament must take the recommendation from parliament seriously if the intention it to rid the country of greed which is spreading its tentacles widely to all sectors of national life