Civil servants ‘buying’ promotion from ‘high level contacts’

Edify Hamukale has warned civil servants with the tendency of lobbying for promotions from “high level contacts” to immediately stop doing so.

“I wish to warn any GRZ officer against undermining their supervisors and the tendency to lobby for promotions through High Legal Contacts as opposed to measurable performance though staff appraisals. I have received reports of some of them trying to buy promotion and even giving out very healthy goats as inducement for consideration. Stop this now,” he says. “In the same vein I’m however very disappointed with a handful of some very senior officers who are harassing employees from the finance and procurement departments for their good performance, integrity and patriotism because some of them benefited from corrupt financial transactions and fraudulent procurement operations and are now broke.”

Dr Hamukale’s observations call for serious attention.

Under Edgar Lungu’s government, corruption and nepotism have become an order of the day. A fella who was poor yesterday, overnight becomes rich and pompous. Today, it’s an open season for theft, abuse of national resources or the treasury, including power. It is no longer who are corrupt but who has succeeded in getting that fat cheque, who has acquired that land, who has a huge fleet of expensive automobiles, etc. Is this how to rule a country? Should corruption, illicit enrichment and embezzlement now be appreciated as the new normal?

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime warns us that there are serious moral implications to any act of corruption.

It states that systemic corruption in the public sector erodes public trust in government institutions, damages policy integrity, and distorts public sector outcomes and that, “It also has a deep-seated negative impact on the public sector in that it leads to a self-perpetuating organizational culture of corruption. The vested interests of the different actors in the system make systemic corruption very difficult to fight. It thus becomes necessary to base anti-corruption efforts, as much as possible, on both intrinsic elements in the public sector and on external controls (including laws and regulations), as well as on broad public participation.”

The UNODC further states that, “All before-mentioned forms of corruption occur in the public sector, including bribery, embezzlement, illicit enrichment, trading in influence, and abuse of functions (which can involve favouritism and nepotism).

It defines bribery in the public sector as “[t]he promise, offering or giving, to a public official, directly or indirectly, of an undue advantage, for the official himself or herself or another person or entity, in order that the official act or refrain from acting in the exercise of his or her official duties”. While this definition can be difficult to digest, the essence of the crime – money or anything else of value exchanged for benefits from political or economic actors – is not difficult to grasp. Nor is it difficult to understand the effect of the crime – circumventing lawful procedures by auctioning off political or economic power to the highest bidder…. Beyond the complex legal formulation of the definition, the bottom line is that someone entrusted with something valuable (such as property, funds or investments) has taken it for him- or herself or routed it to some third party at the expense of others. It is, essentially, a combination of betrayal and theft. UNCAC article 19 defines the offence of abuse of functions. This offence could apply to situations such as patronage (the use of State resources to reward individuals for their electoral support); nepotism (preferential treatment of relatives); cronyism (awarding jobs and other advantages to friends or trusted colleagues); and sextortion (the demand for sexual favours as a form of payment) – all of which undermine independent or democratically representative decision-making, and fair and competitive processes in the formation or staffing of governments. Like the crimes of bribery and embezzlement, these forms of corruption are highly destructive of transparency, accountability and the rule of law. That is not only their effect; it is also their object and purpose.”

This is abundantly clear. But will civil servants heed to this? We doubt, because corruption under this government is being done under the tagline of ‘follow the leader.’ The ‘almighty’ Edgar has wrongly convinced even the most decent human being in Zambia that corruption is the gateway to wealthy accumulation. So, civil servants are also embracing crookedness.

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