The fight against corruption is a thankless battle, observed Southern Africa Forum Against Corruption (SAFAC) out-going chairman Major General Anatory Kamazima yesterday.
And President Levy Mwanawasa said corruption and HIV/AIDS are about the same.
Major General Kamazima said the fight against corruption was a thankless job and the irony of fighting corruption was that sometimes very few in the upper echelon of society supported the fight.
Major Gen Kamazima said the SAFAC welcomed, and was encouraged by, President Mwanawasa’s personal and institutional drive to fight the scourge.
He said without strong political will, anti-corruption agencies alone would not succeed in the fight.
Major Gen Kamazima was speaking at the fourth SAFAC annual general meeting at Livingstone’s Zambezi Sun Hotel.
And opening the annual general meeting, President Mwanawasa said while it was said quite often that corruption was worse than HIV/AIDS, he did not know which was serious hence he felt they were about the same.
“Our aim in Zambia is to achieve zero tolerance on corruption and promote abstinence to avoid HIV/AIDS. Now, zero tolerance and abstinence is the same. If you cannot abstain, we have to give you a condom to incapacitate HIV/AIDS and if you cannot handle yourself properly to avoid corruption, you must be incapacitated and sent to prison,” President Mwanawasa said.
He said it had now become internationally acknowledged that his administration had made corruption a high-risk undertaking in Zambia.
President Mwanawasa said when he took over office, there were a number of glaring instances of corrupt practices that were alleged to have been done by the previous regime.
He said as a concerned and patriotic leader, he welcomed the idea of constituting the Task Force to specifically look into issues of corrupt practices that allegedly occurred.
“To date, the Task Force has recovered property amounting to billions of kwacha or billions of dollars and confiscated many other properties ranging from motor vehicles, buildings to machinery,” President Mwanawasa said. “The Task Force is now investigating over 150 cases and individuals and tremendous progress has been made.”
President Mwanawasa said some of the cases that the Task Force was investigating were already before the courts of law.
“These developments constitute a dramatic shift in the state’s approach to getting rid of corruption and providing leadership that will instill a corruption-free culture,” he said.
President Mwanawasa said the challenge now was to consolidate the progress made, hence the government move to review the Anti-Corruption Commission Act through relevant government agencies to ensure that it became stronger if not more biting to all the offenders.
He further said his administration was, through, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) formulating a comprehensive National Anti-Corruption Prevention Strategy that involved the public, private sector, including civil society and the media, and fostered partnership and was more cost-effective in corruption fight.
President Mwanawasa said consultations had already started with all partners to come up with a proposed strategy.
“I accept, however, that more can still be done, particularly in relation to the early prevention of corruption, its causes and reduction before the strategy is put in place,” he said.
President Mwanawasa said he fully supported SAFAC’s strategy of combining regional efforts in achieving trans-boundary co-operation in the investigations and prosecutions of corruption cases.
He said corruption eats away the fabric that welds society together and it became sophisticated every time, making sharing advanced methods through such organizations as SAFAC a very necessary initiative.
“Corruption, whatever form it takes, is immoral, highly unethical and whoever is involved in the scourge lacks integrity and does not deserve to be in public office,” President Mwanawasa said. “It must be borne in mind that where corruption is left unbridled, it has the capacity not only to retard economic development but is also a very good recipe for civil unrest in a country, region and it perpetrates injustice, poverty, social and political disharmony.”
President Mwanawasa said Zambia today was at the crossroads of ensuring that corruption was uprooted wherever it reared its ugly head.
ACC chairperson Nellie Mutti said the fight against corruption required political commitment of all leaders of the SADC region if it was to succeed.
She said the Livingstone meeting was significant because it was being held after the drawing up of the SADC Anti-Corruption regional programme in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania two months ago.
South Africa is the only SADC member state that had not participated in SAFAC since its inception in 2000.
Larry Moonze Livingstone, The Post (Lusaka), August 4, 2004