The arrest of nine police officers from Chipata for corruption was quite a shock because extorting cash from motorists is a favourite pass time for police and is common in all the provinces especially in Lusaka. So famous is this practice that both traffic police and motorists are at one in the practice of paying for motoring infarctions.
Road blocks in Lusaka are particularly common during weekends which the police set up at any point of the roads, including junctions, where the motorists are forced to part with money or face the impounding and subsequent detention of their vehicles at police stations.
These roadblocks are so brazen and the bribes paid so open that it has become part and parcel of the ‘highway code’. Undoubtedly, even officers from the Anti Corruption Commission have fallen prey and happily paid bribes to settle traffic offences, real or imagined.
In a way, that is why fighting corruption in Zambia will never be realiSed because citizens are willing and prepared to part with money to secure services for which the public officers are paid a salary and attendant allowances to dispence.
There is no doubt that the nine Chipata policemen are wondering what could have hit them to be arraigned for a practice that is common and prevalent in all parts of the country. It is clear that rhetoric alone will not fight corruption just as corruption of political cases will not solve the rot of corruption and abuse of authority.
In order to rid this country of corruption, the example must start from the top.
Those in power must show a commitment to ridding high level graft otherwise it is pointless and meaningless to hound small people, hauling them before courts of law, when there is a pervasive culture by the police, Drug Enforcement Commission, Ministry of Lands, Ministry of Education for school enrolment and a host of other very clear institutions which practice and promote corruption.
Instead of leading the fight, the moribund and politically-inspired ACC will wait for instructions from politicians to prosecute their opponent.
Only a few weeks ago, we reported and catalogued massive corruption within the Lusaka City council where officers were involved in insider trading and corrupt award of contracts. Absolutely nothing has happened from that revelation. A few noises were made and promises of investigations made but to date those responsible continue to occupy the offices from which they abused their position for pecuniary advantage.
It would appear that corruption is only recognised when committed by the member of the opposition or indeed an individual at odds with the system.
This should not be the case.
Our law enforcement institutions must rise above partisan political interests to serve the greater good of society by clamping down all forms of corruption.
We challenge the ACC to mount road blocks here in Lusaka, incognito and determine how much money is fleeced from minibus drivers and errant motorists. It they are serious, what was discovered in Chipata will be a child’s picnic in Lusaka.