By Melony Chisanga and Masuzyo Chakwe
WE should all reject corruption, hate it with a passion and report all suspicious acts to law enforcement agencies, says President Edgar Lungu.
And President Lungu says there are some bad eggs that have soiled the public service.
During the commemoration of the International Anti-Corruption Day at the Showgrounds yesterday, he said global efforts point to the direction that corruption is one of the biggest threats to the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals.
“Let us all do more, even at individual level.
The fight against corruption begins with me, it begins with you,” President Lungu said. “We should not just complain and do nothing about it. We should all take action, the time is now. The question is what action are you going to take against corruption? That is the question I pose to you today. Let us all unite against corruption, for the attainment of the much-desired corruption-free Zambia.”
He said it had been recognised that corruption destabilised peace, caused violence, conflicts and eroded human dignity.
President Lungu said Zambia was committed to ensuring that the 2030 agenda of attaining Sustainable Development Goals was achieved. He said his government would continue to prioritise the prevention and combating of corruption to build peace and protect the people’s human rights.
President Lungu said his government placed the prosperity of the nation and its people at the top of its agenda.
“For this reason, my government will continue to implement policies and strategies aimed at uplifting the livelihood of our people. Fighting this scourge is, therefore, of greater importance because corruption robs people of their wealth and desired development,” he said. “I wish to reiterate that no perpetrator of corruption will be allowed to roam free, but will face the full wrath of the law, regardless of their standing in society. Those who engage in corrupt practices deny our mothers, fathers and children in the rural areas access to basic services such as healthcare, education and proper sanitation. This is because these few selfish individuals pocket funds meant for the provision of public services. My government will not condone that. It is heartbreaking to see the levels of abuse and embezzlement of public resources which continue to be revealed in the Auditor-General’s report, and other related reports.”
President Lungu said colossal sums of money are reportedly lost by institutions every year, because some public officers have taken it upon themselves to milk public resources for their own selfish benefit.
“I want to see these erring officers punished, and the stolen funds recovered. I, therefore, challenge the law enforcement institutions such as ACC and all others to intensify their efforts in this regard,” he said. “Please collaborate with each other and deal with these matters swiftly, to avoid loss of public funds. It is not State House to do this, it is your institutions. My government will do its part in ensuring that we attain a corruption-free Zambia by rendering the necessary support to the fight against corruption, and to the institution mandated to lead the fight against corruption. Let me emphasise, we will not politicise the fight against corruption, it is your responsibility to establish who should be prosecuted or not. There should be no sacred cows.”
President Lungu noted that the United Nations had this year, prioritised and recognised the important role that young people played in the fight against corruption and had included a component of youth involvement in its campaign against the scourge.
“In emulating this global effort, my government will intensify the involvement of young people who are key stakeholders in the fight against corruption because of their power to influence social change,” he said. “I wish to urge the Anti-Corruption Commission and other governance institutions to develop, enhance and implement specific programmes targeted at the young people, especially in learning institutions. These will help to instill in them values of honesty, integrity and accountability which become part of their character as they grow.”
President Lungu said the government would continue to support the integrity programme which encouraged the formation of integrity committees which work towards strengthening internal control systems and sealing loopholes for corruption and theft, especially in public institutions.
He said th government would also continue working with international institutions and organisations in the fight against corruption to support global efforts aimed at eradicating corruption as well as learn best practices from other nations.
“Zambia is on a path to economic prosperity, and we will not allow corrupt elements to derail us from this path of development.
I would like to call upon all stakeholders therefore; civil society, faith-based organisations, political parties, institutions of learning, government institutions and the entire citizenry, to take up the challenge to do more in the fight against corruption,” said President Lungu. “Please do not policise the fight against corruption for political mileage.”
During the swearing in of deputy Auditor General Francis Mbewe and public policy specialist Kambaila Gregory Munkoni at State House yesterday, President Lungu expressed concern that huge financial resources are either being misapplied or misappropriated in the public sector.
President Lungu said there was need to restore sanity in the utilisation of public resources.
He said Mbewe’s office was key to finding lasting solutions to those matters.
President Lungu said Mbewe’s vast experience in public service accounting, finance and auditing spanning over 25 years was a remarkable achievement which deserves recognition.
“Let me emphasise that your appointment as deputy Auditor General is on merit. I am confident that with your impressive curriculum vitae, you will effectively contribute to the financial and audit supervision of public sector institutions,” he said. “I am also certain that you will apply your external audit skills to help resolve the numerous audit queries that constantly appear in the Auditor General’s report. I am concerned that huge financial resources are either being misapplied or misappropriated in the public sector. We need to restore sanity in the utilisation of public resources and your office is key to finding lasting solutions to this matter.”
President Lungu said Munkoni started his career in the civil service in 2001 as a statistician at the Central Statistical Office.
“You have served in various positions, including that of national economist at the United Nations Development Programme, where you were seconded in 2012. You also worked in the Ministry of Works and Supply and the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development as senior statistician,” he said. “Having been appointed as public policy specialist, you will join a team responsible for coordinating the policy process aimed at enhancing government’s capacity to design and implement policies for sustainable and inclusive development.”
President Lungu said the country was operating in a competitive world, therefore, it was important to understand the global trends and ensure that the best practices were adapted at the local level for the benefit of the people.
“The position you are going to occupy is sensitive. You should, therefore, take this oath very seriously and understand its implications. I am, however, aware and happy that most senior public servants have taken their oaths seriously and have adhered to the requirements religiously although there are also some bad eggs who have soiled the public service,” President Lungu told Munkoni.