KENNETH Kaunda’s government is the cleanest government Zambia has ever had, there was no hanky-panky or corruption or people using their offices to make money on the sidelines, says Dr Sketchley Sacika. The former secretary to the cabinet said the biggest challenge facing President Edgar Lungu is the perception that he is running a very corrupt government and that he himself is corrupt. Commenting on calls by former Attorney General Musa Mwenya that all those serving or who previously served in government be subjected to a lifestyle audit, Dr Sacika said the ‘corrupt’ perception on President Lungu was so persistent that it was damaging him personally apart from also damaging the reputation of his government.
He said the perception was also putting Zambia in very bad light.
“Everybody outside thinks that Zambia is very corrupt and as a man in charge of our national affairs, there is urgent for him [President Lungu] to do something about it. I, therefore, support the call made by concerned citizens that there should be an audit of the lifestyles of the people in public office in order to establish how they managed to acquire the kind of wealth they now possess,” he said in an interview yesterday.
He added that the lifestyle audit should not only affect the President, ministers and senior government officials but also include civil servants “at the lower level”.
“I have heard junior civil servants building big mansions without using loans and Zambia National Building Society loans. The question is; how do these junior civil servants manage to acquire such property? So the audit of lifestyle should not only concern the people at the top, it should go right down to the junior level,” he suggested.
Dr Sacika insisted that the audit should not be a one-off activity but a continuous exercise undertaken by a wing of the Anti Corruption Commission. He said the wing should be established solely for the purpose of carrying out the audit in conjunction with the Zambia Intelligence Service.
“You know that under our laws, corruption is a criminal offence. Under the corruption Act and also under the Penal Code, in Zambia, if a person uses his position to secure pecuniary advantage, that is misuse of public office of which they can be prosecuted under the Penal Code. So under our laws corruption is a criminal offence and that being the case, the State must use all the means at its disposal, including instituting an audit of lifestyle of people working in public institutions in order to establish the source of the wealth they own,” he said.
Dr Sacika reminisced on the Dr Kaunda days when a leadership code was in full effect.
“You know that during comrade KK’s government, we had a leadership code which was an Act of Parliament with a leadership committee that took care of the issues of corruption in the leadership hierarchy and the leadership code together with the leadership committee worked very effectively,” he said. “I served in that government that I can tell you that without any fear of contradicting myself that that was the cleanest government Zambia has ever had. There was no hanky-panky or corruption or people using their offices to make money on the sidelines.”
Dr Sacika said most of the officials who worked under Dr Kaunda’s leadership left government with very little to their name.
“When UNIP lost elections in 1991, nearly all the people that had served in very high positions in KK’s government left with very little and all of us had small houses which we built using Zambia National Building Society loans…that was a clean government. Under the civil service, the issues of corruption were dealt with under general orders which was strictly enforced in order to ensure that civil servants never used their positions to acquire wealth illegally,” said Dr Sacika.
“All decent governments that I know in the world would never permit a situation were government officials are allowed to use their offices to acquire wealth illegally or in a corrupt manner, no decent government ever does that, you go to UK, United States, they have got very strict rules. When you are working for the government, you cannot do certain things that would be in conflict with the position you hold either as a minster or senior government official and they have got systems that ensure that anybody misusing their position is dealt with in the courts of law. We also have the Anti Corruption laws and when people are calling for the audit of the lifestyles of people, what they are saying is that our corruption laws must be enforced.”