The Post (Lusaka)
March 6, 2004
Vice-president Nevers Mumba yesterday declared that Zambia shall conquer corruption the same way colonialism was conquered.
And the US government has committed US $1 million to enhance Zambia’s fight against corruption.
Officiating at the Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) stakeholders’ workshop on a comprehensive anti-corruption strategy, Vice-President Mumba said the hour had come for Zambia to get rid of corruption.
“This is our hour of visitation. The sun is shining on Zambia right now. This is the time to reap justice and those who plundered this country will definitely pay for it,” he said.
“Zambia is a fighter. We have fought colonialism and helped our neighbours win their freedom, we have been fighting HIV/AIDS, and now we are fighting corruption. We shall conquer corruption the same way colonialism was conquered.”
The Vice-President Mumba said the government’s anti-corruption drive was not mere political rhetoric aimed at broadening its support base.
“We are totally committed to the fight against corruption because we want to leave the country better than we found it. Our fight is not based on political expediency but on honesty,” he said.
Vice-President Mumba assured that all those implicated in the plunder of the national economy would be accorded just and fair trials.
“We want to win the fight against corruption at all costs but we will also ensure that fair justice is given to those implicated. We want justice in our fight against corruption and our men and women in the courts of law are aware of the challenge,” he said.
Vice-President Mumba noted that in line with the government’s zero tolerance on corruption, the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) was developing a long-term plan to fight corruption that would focus on public education, successful prosecutions and networking among stakeholders.
He hailed TIZ for hosting the workshop because it provided a forum for dialogue on how corruption can best be tackled.
“This workshop presents an opportunity for the government to listen to the views and expectations of civil society as regards the fight against corruption as well as inform civil society about the various initiative being undertaken by different wings of government against corruption,” Vice-President Mumba noted.
“It is therefore my hope that by the end of the workshop, some consensus would have been reached at on what would constitute an effective anti corruption strategy for Zambia. The development of a comprehensive anti corruption strategy for Zambia will not only provide an effective system of combating corruption but will also provide a conceptual framework for an intelligent reform of existing institutions and practices in order to create a just and honest government.”
Vice-President Mumba challenged civil society not to leave the monitoring of corruption to law enforcement agencies alone saying they needed to participate fully in the process.
He reiterated the government’s conviction that the anti corruption fight was crucial to the country’s sustainable development.
“My government is firmly convinced that no matter how much resources are available to a country, if it exhibits high levels of corruption, no meaningful development can be attained. Indeed, this is even made worse when a country has serious economic difficulties as we presently have,” Vice-President Mumba said.
“Our efforts to attract assistance from our co-operating partners will indeed be vain if we cannot win the battle against corruption. Even as we are determined to reach the HIPC [Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative] completion point, we must be equally resolved to fight corruption.”
And US deputy chief of mission Dan Mozena said the fight against corruption had transformed Zambia into a land of more opportunities and has created an unprecedented opportunity to change the country’s future.
Mozena said the hope arising from Zambia’s commitment to fighting corruption would not yield benefits if it was not accompanied by impatience “to reap the anti corruption harvest before the weather changes.”
He, however, advised that such impatience should be accompanied by patience because it would take time to dismantle the complex structure of the matrix of plunder.
Mozena said in recognition of Zambian’s commitment to fighting corruption, the US government would continue providing technical assistance to the Task Force on Corruption.
“So far, our commitment to Zambia’s fight against corruption has amounted to over US$2 million to support investigations, prosecutions, legal reforms and workshops such as this one,” Mozena said.
“We have also made future commitment of at least US $1 million to support institutional changes that will help Zambia prevent future corruption even as it deals with the consequences of past corruption.”
Speaking earlier, TIZ president Dr. Alfred Chanda noted that corruption could not be effectively fought by proscribing it alone and stressed the need to identify and address underlying issues promoting the scourge.
“There is need to deal with the underlying causes and not only symptoms of corruption by developing a long-term multi-faceted and comprehensive strategy that has complimentary preventive and enforcement approaches – legal, social and economic,” Dr. Chanda said. “Building coalitions between civil society, the private sector and government wings is also an important step in fighting corruption as it will open channels through which all can demand greater accountability from each other.
“Civil society, the private sector and the government should therefore take up the challenge to raise consciousness and change attitudes. In order to succeed, it is important to understand vulnerabilities, fortify systems, improve information and provide incentives.”