UPND graft fight: Renewed vigor
Published On August 25, 2023 » 768 Views» By Times Reporter » Opinion
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ON of the most pronounced promises the United Party for National Development (UPND) throughout its 23-year campaign to form government was that, upon being elected, it would wage a relentless war against corruption which had become rife during the 10 years of the Patriotic Front (PF) administration.
This ugly spectre of corruption became even worse during the last seven years of the PF reign under the leadership of President Edgar Lungu.
At one public function, Mr Lungu was even quoted as telling his party members that stealing was not entirely wrong as long as one did not steal everything.
It is also true that while addressing Zambians resident in the United States during a visit there, Mr Lungu was asked to comment on the controversial issue of 42 fire trucks that the Ministry of Local Government and Housing had procured at US$1 million and whose market value was reported to be around $250,000. In response, Mr Lungu told the audience that he was as blank as them, raising concerns about whether he was really serious with the fight against corruption.
Had Mr Lungu been a serious president, he should have been the first one to question the exorbitant price at which the fire trucks were bought.
At no point did he ever come out to strongly speak against the corruption in his government.
The most he could do was challenge the people accusing the PF leadership of being corruption to provide evidence.
He could have been right because it is said who alleges must provide evidence.
It was for this reason that the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), headed by director-general Mary Chirwa, provided evidence linking politically-exposed persons to financial crimes.
The majority of intelligence reports disseminated were on suspected money laundering, corruption and tax evasion.
Instead of supporting the FIC, which was a creature of government, Mr Lungu responded by saying the reports were a mere which-hunt while PF officials called for Ms Chirwa’s resignation.
That was how entrenched and institutionalised corruption was under the PF regime and that was one of the reasons the Zambian people decided to vote the party out during the August 2021 general elections.
The coming of the UPND in government brought with it a new lease of life in the fight against corruption and, so far, Mr Hichilema’s administration has not disappointed.
It should be noted, though, that government cannot effectively fight corruption without a motivated cadre of prosecutors.
If prosecutors are demotivated, they can easily be compromised by suspects and the fight against corruption would not succeed.
During the PF reign, prosecutors who advocated better conditions of service were unceremoniously transferred to far-flung areas and disconnected from their families.
It is, therefore, pleasing to hear Southern Province Minister Cornelius Mweetwa say all the prosecutors who were persecuted would be reunited with their families.
The government should be commended for this step as it is crucial in the fight against corruption.

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