The crusade against corruption will never be won for as long as it remains sporadic and selective.
The fight has to be consistent, determined and above all impartial if it is to make the impact is so desperately desires in order to safeguard national resources from waste and plunder.
The dangers of corruption are real and translate into billions of Kwacha that either goes into people’s pockets or goes to sheer waste. This year’s fertilizer mess is one example of greed and waste that should never be allowed.
From the very start it was obvious that Government dabbling in fertilizer procurement and distribution was bound to fail because the Government as an institution is ill equipped for the exercise which is a full time business undertaking.
This was a business well left to the private sector which has been handling procurement and distribution without Government assistance.
It is true that questions have been asked about the private contracts with some suggestions that a number of hands were oil in the process of tender procurement. These allegations have never been proved, neither has any evidence been adduced to suggest that fertilizer brought in by either Nyiombo or Omnia was priced about the acceptable market prices.
The cost benefit analysis, favoring direct intervention by Government, that we have seen were heavily loaded towards this misguided direction by presenting a logistical fallacy. The cost of fertilizer is not limited to the Cost and Insurance Cost (CIF) landed in Lusaka or nearest port. There is an even bigger cost in the transshipment, handling and final storage of the fertilizer when it arrives in Zambia.
The tragedy about these contracts is that they cost so much, create so much damage and ultimately put so many thousands if not millions of people through unnecessary hardship. This is the case with the Trafigura contract which to date has not been explained and if anything it is business as usual and yet the cost to the ordinary Zambian is colossal in terms of hiked cost of transport and generally higher cost of doing business in Zambia.
It is wrong that occasionally junior ministers are fired in pique and righteous indignation and yet those who involved in major league corruption are left intact, un-bruised and unscathed by the non-existent graft campaign.
In our view the starting point of fighting corruption is to ensure that there are no sacred cows. This means that those behind Trafigura must be exposed and must suffer the consequences of putting this country through such waste and expense.
It also means that the ACC must take responsibility for the mess in Access Finance, Tedworth Properties and other accounts which they should have taken care of but have been scared to do so because of powers that be.
Until and unless this is done there is no anti-corruption fight to speak about in Zambia. The few people victimized for pittances are but sacrificial lambs who are ceremonial than being integral to the systematic and well organized corruption fight.