Positive Vibrations no. 29


Repositioning the fight against corruption

In positive vibrations 27 and 28, I discussed the victimization that has characterized the fight against corruption as may be seen from the many Zambians whose human rights have been attacked and abused. Let us act towards one another with reason!

The issue of violating civil liberties, under whatever circumstances is simply unacceptable. I personally do not think that you need to know the Policeman/woman dealing with you in order to get better treatment. The rule of law makes adequate provisions to ensure that all are treated fairly and equally, without fear or favor, as the Daily Mail would say.

Some will recall the launch of a book or reader entitled Nchekelako in 2002, by the then Chief Justice. I will be impressed if any local Library has this publication which is found in one of the Libraries in England. For me, here, there is a call for nationalism. There is a call for patriotism. There is a call for seriousness. In this context, I expect local institutions to be interested in any serious literature that concerns Zambia. Nchekelako was an attempt to set the tone of the fight against corruption before it was hijacked.

Anyhow, I in my capacity as Executive Director of AFRONET then made a copy available to the late President Mwanawasa (MHSRIP) and he acknowledged receipt. The idea was to take advantage of his ascendancy to the Presidency to reposition the fight against corruption. Whether what we saw as a vicious and venomous fight against corruption, was indeed a fight against corruption, (and only based on what I know and is in the public domain), leaves a lot to be desired. Barefoot Lawyers took over!

Here, I do not condemn the entire process but find little reason if any at all to support state inspired terror, and in particular, witch- hunting. Please note the difference between “state terror” and “state inspired terror”.  Generally, the earlier stems from the rule of law and the latter the rule by law. As we know, the rule of law reflects a culture of respecting the law and only acting because an act is authorized by law where as in the case of the rule by law, the law is used as an instrument to brutalize those in a weaker position. Now here is the danger that could affect both:

All the time and in many circumstances, there will be those individuals who have a criminal mind. These may appear to be good citizens and may be associated with many humanitarian causes such as donating to charity or crudely, “buying” communities. But, they always have their eyes on how best they will engage in transactions beneficial to them. It is similar to the story that hit the Newspaper headlines in England about twenty years ago, “From Rugs to Riches” in reference to the industry of second hand clothes, which became a cash cow for those intimately involved.  In our local situation, it could be a community leader who “benefits” from the sale of land. It could be the dicey legal transaction, where a government makes a decision to empower citizens (as in the sale of houses) but the citizens opt to exercise their constitutional right to engage in legal and legitimate transactions: They sell their newly acquired houses to the highest bidder even though that act clearly defeats government policy!  (Who’s Capital and who’s State?)

The rule by law is more hazardous. There is a real danger when power or influence, is in wrong hands. For instance, subordinate legislation such as Statutory Instruments (SI’s) are very useful and necessary to run government. But, there is a danger that the same may be terribly abused. Remember the ban on second hand vehicles in Zambia in mid 1990s? What about the law on motor vehicle theft? What about the Anti Corruption Act of 2010?

Under the banner of the rule by law, a law is enacted to pursue an agenda which at best is dubious. It is done under the auspices of promoting the rule of law, when the intention is different.

I see the problem that the fight against corruption faced in the context of the rule by law. Some people or entities needed to be fixed and indeed, they were fixed only because either they stood in the way or would serve as a good example of the seriousness of the “fight”! This is what we should deal with because it goes to the core of governance – good or bad. The issues become more interesting because the “fight” against corruption as pursued by the Task Force at the time, had the full backing of some donors. Fifteen years on; both intention and reason for the “strong” anti-corruption lobby, remains shadowy and at best, without character.  The campaign, though ill intentioned, had results. Some citizens came out of the illusionary corruption fight, very rich and others, representing most victims, quite miserable. Although a few are “comfortable” by accident, they still suffer the effects of torture and social exclusion.

What then is the way forward? I ask this question because I do not agree with the practice of shaming and denting the image of hard working citizens only “crime” is success. They are not part of the Cartel agenda, which, soon I shall discuss. (That is if the Cartel members and Associates do not “stop me”.  They are vicious and akin to an Octopus in form and character)

A fresh beginning, as I suggested earlier, is an option. Folks,  government(s) at any one time are made of individuals and the fact that outsiders sought to control the Zambian government; is the more reason why a true fresh beginning, which buries all hurt and hate, all losses and all negative emotions, becomes a real option. It then also becomes an option as well for the Government of the Republic of Zambia to seriously consider the possibility of “rehabilitating” those who were clear victims of the Cartel and reposition the fight against corruption. In no way, would I expect any such “rehabilitated” person to begin or indeed unleash venom against the Cartel or perceived Cartel members.

We must as a matter of urgency, draw a distinction between the Cartel agenda, which is the epitome of evil and individual Cartel members who are only in the Cartel because of human weaknesses. These, like all who sin, require more understanding than condemnation.

I am not in any way asking anybody to allow the Cartel agenda to fully unfold. Make no mistake, the agenda has just paused and if we allow it, those known desperate members, hibernating in business and political forums will come back with great vengeance and ruthlessness. Our society must guard against such a misfortune of time!

So much good and bad have happened in the last 51 years or so. Currently, the undisputable President is His Excellence Edgar Chagwa Lungu. The buck ends with HE Lungu.

As he has correctly observed our society is paining. It has been injured and President Lungu occupies a vantage position as a Head of State and President for ALL Zambians to begin the process of healing our nation. During the opening of Parliament, HE Lungu noted that as we push for a Smart Zambia, no one shall be left behind! This is such a profound statement speaking to the most prized resource Zambia has. That is, it’s people, in a holistic sense! Mind you this refers to ALL citizens and therefore removes all artificial barriers imposed by prejudice. One Zambia, One Nation reigns.

As we reposition and possibly re-launch the fight against corruption, we shall need to pay great attention to the aspect of investigations because in criminal matters, the burden of proof is very high such that we cannot afford half baked investigations. Why should we allow arrests if investigations are suspect and only an abuse of Court? There is a fair and reasonable assumption that the state has the capacity to carry out thorough investigations and not rumors.

What this means is that Zambians have a duty to ensure that public institutions attract competent professionals.  Can you imagine going through say an audit, with an Auditor who discusses his findings in a bar? We have people who have made serious money outside government. How and why would you suspect that they could have stolen bicycles? Is it about doing one’s work and fending for one’s family; at the expense of the victim’s family?

However we want to look at things the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), is in the dock because Lawyers swear to assist the Court arrive at a fair and just truth. Can you establish a truth based on falsehoods?

Arrests in my view should not be made only to feed the huge propaganda machinery. The media performs its duty to inform people but the investigators would be doing the public such a huge disservice by making hurried, inconclusive but probably politically correct arrests. The main objective in this matrix, being that of shaming and humiliating victims!

Can such a destructive, unreasonable and politically motivated agenda make a case for a better Zambia? Schemers and criminals are left to create havoc! Cartel, Cartel, Cartel!! See you next week!


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