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Spare us the corruption rhetoric

In his address to Parliament last Friday, Edgar Lungu said his government acknowledges that fighting corruption in all its forms is key to promoting good governance and achieving sustainable socio-economic development.

“This government will not tolerate corruption. Any individual found wanting by the courts of law would not enjoy any protection from this government. It does not matter which political party you belong to or your social status. The law will be applied equally to all those found wanting,” says Edgar. “My government has continued to strengthen and roll out the integrity committee initiative aimed at ensuring the prevention of corruption in both public and private institutions. There are currently 94 integrity committees compared to 48 in 2016. Most of these are in public institutions.”

How nice! These are very good words, good observations but only worth the paper on which they were written! This was nothing but a by-the-way pronouncement to fulfill his duty of delivering a semblance of a state-of-the-nation address. He must have found it even harder to read those four paragraphs on the subject of corruption. This is simply because fighting corruption is not in his political agenda; it has never been and it will never be. His inner soul must have struggled to read those paragraphs on corruption because he is the chief defender of corruption.

In reality Edgar can’t fight corruption. Edgar fights those who pursue the corrupt. He doesn’t hesitate striking or issuing threats at state institutions whenever they attempt to prosecute wrongdoers in his administration. Even whistle-blowers are not spared. As we have stated before, it’s being unrealistic for anyone to expect Edgar to fight corruption.

Zambians have not forgotten, barely a month ago, in Chifubu, Ndola, Edgar criticized the Anti-Corruption Commission saying all the corruption fight is targeted at him, to embarrass him. This is the person who appoints the Anti-Corruption Commission. And the statement was issued at the backdrop of one of Edgar’s key ministers appearing in court for corruption. The net effect of that statement is to instill fear in those fighting graft. Anyone who dares touch Edgar’s lieutenants is construed to be targeting him.

Edgar has made it very clear, and publicly so, that ubomba mwibala alya mwibala (he who ploughs the field must also eat from there). His only worry was that balila kumo nembuto (they consume everything including seeds). And this approach is not for others but for himself too. This is sanctioning corruption, permitting corruption, abating corruption. This is corruption. And Edgar is corrupt.

Edgar has eaten from mwibala (field) and alishetela kumo ne mbuto (he has also chewed the seeds). That is how he has managed to acquire so much unexplained wealth that is far beyond his earned income in the time he has been President.

So, for him, any fight against corruption is not really a fight against corruption but politics to control amabala (fields)! The only people he sees as corrupt are Bembas whom he says six out of 10 you meet are thieves. And probably that is why the only people his government has been prosecuting are Bembas or Bemba-speaking. But that is also only when they steal without him or his people or they short change him – they don’t give him his proper cut.

However, even those prosecutions don’t go far because he is quite often eating with them. All they do is simply hire lawyers who are close to him and show them what part of what loot had gone to the boss. And in fear of exposing him the case is stopped or is deliberately bungled.

Please Edgar, spare us the rhetoric. Spare the nation the rhetoric of you fighting corruption. Try something else. It’s deeds and not words!

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