PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu lacks the necessary moral pedestal to speak against corruption, says Patriots for Economic Progress leader Sean Tembo.
He has argued that President Lungu has previously endorsed many acts of apparent corruption including but not limited to government’s purchase of 42 “wheelbarrow-looking fire tenders at an inflated price of US$1 million each piece.”
Commenting on President Lungu’s remarks during the International Anti-Corruption Day that perpetrators of corruption would face the full wrath of the law regardless of their status in society, Tembo said his party appreciates the various comments the Head of State often makes against corruption in Zambia but that those pronouncements should be backed by action and not lip service only.
During the event last Sunday, President Lungu said he could not trivialise the occasion by making it political because the consequences of corruption were too ghastly.
“This is not time for hypocrisy, [but] it’s time to address the issue of corruption. Corruption is recognised globally as one of the biggest threats to attaining sustainable development goals,” he said.
President Lungu claimed Zambia, under the auspices of the PF government, was committed to fighting corruption.
“My government continues to prioritise the fight against corruption, with the knowledge that without dealing with this problem our numerous development programmes will be jeopardised. Corruption robs the country of its wealth and developmental prospects,” he said.
“Perpetrators of corruption will face the full wrath of the law, regardless of their status in society. This is not mere rhetoric [but] real word coming from my heart and the heart of our government – no one is above the law. But let me emphasise that we will not politicise the fight against corruption.”
He also said he was aware that a lot of criminals found solace and comfort in identifying themselves with the ruling party but that such would not insulate them from prosecution.
“We have reached a stage where people admire criminals! We have reached a stage where people say ‘I wish I was like that man’ regardless of how he acquired his wealth…” President Lungu said.
President Lungu said mothers; fathers and children in the rural areas lacked access to basic services such as healthcare, education, and proper sanitation because a few selfish individuals had pocketed funds meant for service provision.
He said his government would not condone such conduct.
“It is heartbreaking to see the levels of abuse and embezzlement being revealed in the Auditor General’s report each year. Colossal sums of funds go missing from institutions every year because some public officers have taken it upon themselves to milk public resources for their own selfish benefit,” he said. “I want to see these erring officers punished and the stolen funds recovered. I therefore challenge our law enforcement institutions to intensify their efforts in this regard, collaborate with each other and deal with these matters swiftly to avoid loss of public funds.”
But Tembo said by now any average citizen knew that President Lungu could not be reasonably expected to fight corruption.
“As Patriots for Economic Progress, we appreciate the various comments that the Republican President often makes against corruption in Zambia, including the comments that he recently made during the International Anti-Corruption Day. However, for as long as these nice comments are not backed by action to actually fight corruption, then they amount to nothing more than lip service,” Tembo said.
“From where we stand as Patriots for Economic Progress, we believe that President Lungu lacks the necessary moral pedestal to stand on and begin to talk against corruption when he has previously endorsed many acts of apparent corruption, including but not limited to Government’s purchase of wheelbarrow looking fire tenders at an inflated price of $1 million apiece. As Patriots for Economic Progress, we believe that by now an average discerning citizen knows that President Lungu cannot be reasonably expected to fight corruption in this country, for the simple reason that he is the main facilitator of corruption. Therefore, the President would be well advised to spare us his lip service fight against corruption because the more he claims to fight corruption, the more the Zambian people are reminded of the fact that he is presiding over the most blatantly corrupt government in the 54-year history of this Republic.”