‘A vaccine against Corruption’

Nevers Mumba has declared that within the first 100 days in government, the MMD will put in place policy mechanisms aimed at eliminating corruption at least by 80 per cent at the end of three years and almost zero by the end of their first term of office.

“We shall strengthen financial controls in all public institutions with a goal of eliminating the pandemic of corruption. While COVID-19 remains a devastating pandemic, corruption has claimed more lives and continues to do so. It is therefore a greater danger to Zambia than even COVID-19. If there is any need for a vaccine in Zambia, it is a vaccine against Corruption,” says Nevers. “To completely stamp out corruption, we shall employ maximum penalties on those convicted on corruption charges. They shall serve not less than 30 years to life sentences in prison. This will be one way of putting away the bad seed of society and end the long era of corruption. These measures shall give Zambia a fresh start.”

There cannot be meaningful socio-economic development and equity in a society – a nation – full of corruption. A society that rewards and glorifies the corrupt is rotten. And when the corrupt are role models, criminality becomes a norm. Indeed, there’s urgent need for this country, our nation, to start afresh. We need to abhor corruption and all forms of malfeasance. Those we elect to public life ought to be motivated to fight graft and other vice that compromise our path to development and to serve the citizenry better.

In a research, Smriti Sharma, Finn Tarp and Saurabh Singhal, published in the Conversation, defined corruption as “a crime which slows economic growth, undermines development, and causes inequality. With a cost to the global economy estimated at around US$2.6 trillion a year, it is often linked to politics and profiteering by large corporations…But a large volume of the corruption in developing countries operates through ‘grease money’ – informal cash payments to local government officials. This involves people regularly handing over payments for access to everyday public goods and services such as electricity, driving licenses and medical care. Aside from the financial implications, the often-hidden cost of this kind of corruption is its damaging psychological impact.”

And Corruption Watch stresses that, “Corruption affects us all. It threatens sustainable economic development, ethical values and justice; it destabilises our society and endangers the rule of law. It undermines the institutions and values of our democracy. But because public policies and public resources are largely beneficial to poor people, it is they who suffer the harmful effects of corruption most grievously. To be dependent on the government for housing, healthcare, education, security and welfare, makes the poor most vulnerable to corruption since it stalls service delivery. Delays in infrastructure development, poor building quality and layers of additional costs are all consequences of corruption. Many acts of corruption deprive our citizens of their constitutional and their human rights… Public money is for government services and projects. Taxes collected, bonds issued, income from government investments and other means of financing government expenditure are meant for social grants, education, hospitals, roads, the supply of power and water and to ensure the personal security of our citizens. Corruption and bad management practices eat into the nation’s wealth, channeling money away from such projects and the very people most dependent on government for support. [Therefore] adherence to good governance creates an environment where corruption struggles to flourish.”

So then, it is heartwarming to hear such commitment from a presidential candidate on how corruption should be fought. Whatever problems we can point at today in our nation emanate from corruption. The Covid situation, for instance, in our nation has been corruptly handled from the time the pandemic broke out. We all remember how COVID-19 kit was procured corruptly and figures inflated to suit the narrative. We have seen how members of the ruling party, including their bosses throwing money around – money which they acquired corruptly. This is how deep-rooted corruption is in our nation. It surely should take somebody to commit and fight it aggressively.

Fighting corruption is a very big risk, though, because once put in a corner, the corrupt fight back viciously. So, if the one fighting them is not strong enough, the corrupt can conquer even the most powerful regime. But this should not scare anyone because the laws of the land are on the side of the people and any government that commits to fighting corruption genuinely will be supported. The fight should go on!

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