By CHILA NAMAIKO –
PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu says nobody is above the law and has directed the law enforcement agencies to ensure that public officers cited in the Auditor General’s Reports are punished and any funds reported stolen is recovered without fail.
President Lungu has, meanwhile, called for unity of purpose among Zambians with one voice, and direction in the fight against corruption and that politicising the matter would undermine the efforts.
He demanded that, security wings without fear or favour, arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of corruption regardless of their status in society.
Mr Lungu said yesterday that it was heartbreaking to see the levels of abuse and embezzlement being revealed in the Auditor-General’s Report each year.
He said colossal sums of funds go missing from institutions every year because some public officers had taken it upon themselves to milk public resources for their own selfish benefit.
Mr Lungu challenged law enforcement institutions to intensify their efforts in that regard, collaborate with each other and deal with these matters swiftly to avoid loss of public funds.
“Our mothers, fathers and children in the rural areas are lacking access to basic services such as healthcare, education, proper sanitation because a few selfish individuals have pocketed funds meant for the provision of these services. My Government will not condone that,” Mr Lungu said.
He said the Government would do its part in ensuring that attainment of 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.
President Lungu was speaking in Lusaka when he officiated at this year’s commemoration of International Anti-corruption Day under the theme “United against corruption.”
He said, however, he was happy that the Government, through the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) had completed the review of the National Anti-Corruption policy.
A new policy would soon be launched to provide national guidance on strategies and programmes to deal with corruption.
“We are also working with the young people who are key stakeholders in the fight against corruption because of the power that they hold to influence social change,” Mr Lungu said.
He said specific programmes targeted at the young people, especially in learning institutions were helping to instill in them the values of honesty, integrity and accountability which became part of their
character as they grew older.
The Government realised the importance of institutional commitment to the fight against corruption, and as such, through ACC had continued to engage both public and private institutions in the fight.
He was happy that the integrity programme which support formation of integrity committees in institutions was proving helpful in institutionalising the fight against corruption.
He said institutions with integrity committees were making serious headways in strengthening internal control systems and sealing loopholes for corruption and theft.
Mr Lungu said the Government was collaborating with international institutions and organisations in the fight against corruption to be part of the global effort to eradicate graft as well as learn best practices from other nations.
He reaffirmed the Government’s resolve to do what was necessary towards attainment of a corruption-free Zambia since the country was a path to economic prosperity and would not allow corrupt elements to derail the trajectory.
“Let us all do more, even at the individual level. The fight against corruption begins with me, it begins with you. Are you doing enough? Do you reject corruption and report it to necessary authorities? Or are you that person who only complains about corruption and does nothing about it?,” he said.