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Corruption has caused breakdown of institutions meant to protect democracy, says Mukuni

CORRUPTION in Zambia has led to a breakdown in institutions that are supposed to protect democracy and ensure free and fair elections such as the judiciary and the police, says chief Mukuni.

Meanwhile, an Oxford scholar Professor Bertrand Vernard says people lose confidence in their politicians and civil servants in a country with high corruption levels.

On Monday Transparency International released the 2018 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), which shows that Zambia now lies on 17 position in the SSA region and 105 globally.

The index, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, uses a scale of 0 to 100, where the lower the score the more corrupt the country is and the higher the figure the cleaner a country is.

The leading country which is less corrupt on the index is Seychelles.

Commenting on the CPI results in respect of Zambia’s ranking, chief Mukuni, whose chiefdom has villages in Livingstone, Kazungula and Zimba districts, said TI’s managing director Patricia Moreira was so correct to say that weak government institutions were less able to control corruption.

“We have seen a systematic breakdown in the protection of human rights by the State because the police have been gravely abused by the PF government against own citizens in the disguise of the Public Order Act. We have seen rampant abuse of the judiciary, which to some extent is now dancing to PF songs. I agree with Transparency
International’s chairperson Delia Ferreira Rubio when she says that corruption is much more likely to flourish where democratic foundations are weak, where undemocratic and populist politicians can use it to their advantage,” he said.
“We don’t need rocket science to see that corruption in Zambia has led to a break down in institutions that are supposed to protect democracy and ensure free and fair elections such as the judiciary and the police. What we have seen over the few years is that the police get excited when they see PF green colours. They don’t see any crimes that are being committed by the PF, but are quick to see the crimes or perceived crimes committed by the opposition. We saw this, and we are still seeing it with the UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema, we have seen this with the independent media such as The Post and now Prime TV; we have seen this with the NDC’s Chishimba Kambwili and I know that more is yet to come,” chief Mukuni said.

Asked what Zambia needs to do in light of the TI’s recommendations to Sub Sahara African countries that they must demonstrate visible commitment to anti-corruption from political leaders, protect human rights defenders, political analysts, anti-corruption activists and investigative journalists, chief Mukuni said this would be like leading the PF leaders to a river but fail to force them to drink water.

“Remember the saying that you can lead a horse to a river but you can’t force it to drink water? This is what the TI is however, telling governments like ours. We have repeatedly sent reminders, politicians have advised on the best way to govern the country economically and socially but the PF is so drunk with other substances to try and drink water,” said chief Mukuni.

And Prof Vernard, who is also chairperson of Anti-Fraud and Cyber-security at Audencia Business School in France, says when the elites are highly corrupt, they are not really concerned with the rest of the population, or even their country.

In a write up published on the Transparency International’s website, Prof Vernard, who directed two major research projects to fight corruption in the mining industry and human resource management in the civil services of Bhutan, said several reasons explain why corruption so grievously damages a democratic system.
“The increased corruption leads to a declining trust in elites and the state. In a country with high corruption levels, the population has no confidence in their politicians and civil servants. With suspicion and even fears of elites, the population can’t invest itself in voting, being involved in the civil society or participating to the public debates. As the result, the culture of democracy begins to crumble,” Prof Vernard wrote.

He added that the worst case was the capture of the State, which could lead to a complete tyranny.

Prof Vernard further indicates that the latest Corruption Perception Index should be a warning sign to pay attention to dramatic effects of corruption on the core functioning of democracies.

He added that corruption breaks the link between collective decision making and people’s power to influence decisions (normally through votes and participation), the very link that defines democracy.

“As a principle, when the elites are highly corrupted, they are not really concern with the rest of the population, or even their country. Indeed, corruption is usually defined as the abuse of power for private gains against the public good,” Prof Vernard said.

He further said for a country to be a democracy, a minimum of public services was necessary, adding that without good education, health and a measure of security, the participation of people to the
political debates was limited.

“Clearly, corruption implies poor public service since bribes, the most common form of corruption, leads to misallocation of resources, the decision makers being more interested to get the higher level of bribes, not to make the best decision. To make the matter worst, corruption also increases the cost of public service. As a result, the corrupted countries have fewer investments and become poorer,” said Prof Vernard.

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