WE cannot have a situation where we are talking about espousing national moral and values whilst we protect the corrupt and use everything within our means to ensure that justice is decided in their favour, a Lusaka rights lawyer has said.
In an interview, McQueen Zaza said words in the fight against corruption must be pragmatic. He said one cannot in one breath condemn corruption and in another embrace corrupt deeds. Zaza said it was regrettable that those that steal from government coffers are being referred to as “honourable” and highly celebrated.
“I asked my niece what she wished to become when she grows up and her response was ‘to be corrupt’. In her mind, corruption is a viable and quick avenue to being rich. She sees most people joining government with nothing but eventually become rich overnight through corruption. She sees those that steal from government coffer being referred to as honourable and highly celebrated,” he said.
“Some are still in government yet facing serious allegations of corruption. Some even drive government vehicles to attend their corruption court cases. With all this, my niece thinks being corrupt is attractive and a quick route to making money.”
Zaza said today, “corruption in Zambia is celebrated and the corrupt are becoming role models for our young people.”
He said this created a mindset in many to hero worship corruption.
“I tend to agree with her to some extent. We have created in the minds of many young people that corruption is the way to go. Many young people no longer think that hard work and education are the only equalisers to a brighter Zambia. Each time they watch television; all they see are corrupt government officials and their accomplices driving luxury cars and custom tailored suits,” Zaza noted.
He warned that as a citizenry the fight against corruption should not be reduced to being a lip service.
“But then in all this mess we are in, what should be done? Our words in the fight against corruption must be pragmatic. We can’t in one breathe condemn corruption and in another embrace corrupt deeds. We cannot have a situation where we are talking about espousing national moral and values whilst we protect the corrupt and use everything within our means to ensure that justice is decided in their favour,” Zaza said.
He said as a mechanism to fight corruption, those facing corrupt charges should be dismissed.
“We must fight corruption with total commitment and this means dismissing those facing corrupt charges in court. This will send a strong message to would be doers not to engage in the vice. It would also change the mindset created in our young people who think corruption is the new equaliser and game changer,” Zaza said.
“We must uphold the correct moral standard and pass the same to generations to come. Clearly, a rational public officer whose motivation is to maximise their benefits from their office would certainly choose to be corrupt under this political dispensation, knowing too sure that being corrupt is glorified under the current setup.”
He said the country had great potential to growth as it had readily available educated labour and natural resources. Zaza called on citizens to change their mindset by going back to basics of hard work and invest in education.
He emphasized that; “It is our civic duty as citizens to fight corruption and all its resemblance. This is because the money corruptly obtained affects all of us living today and the generations to come.”
Zaza said fighting corruption would not be easy considering that the corrupt have created a fulcrum of their survival from the corruption networks they have created.
“Contracts for the supply of goods and services are awarded within these networks. Corruption has robbed this country all the development it could have achieved had the money meant for projects not been misapplied. Corruption will never take us anywhere. Therefore, it is the duty of the now living to create a better atmosphere for generations to come. Proceeds of corruption are buying and building mansions and all other investments for those within these the networks,” observed Zaza.
“Justice and all it aspires to achieve is twisted to favour those in this network; the glorified thieves of our time. Nevertheless, the will of the people will eventually overcome this criminality if we fearlessly continued to fight it tooth and nail. Corruption is evil and we can never be neutral, or so to speak, be lukewarm about its fight.”