Saturday, February 17, 2007

‘We are all to blame’

‘We are all to blame’
By Editor
Saturday February 17, 2007 [02:00]

“We are all corrupt,” charges finance deputy minister Jonas Shakafuswa. And he goes on to say that all Zambians should share the blame for the loss of public funds.

Shakafuswa is certainly not right in saying all Zambians are corrupt. This can’t be true because not all Zambians are corrupt. There are some decent people in this country; and the great majority of our people are decent, humble and poor people who have not stolen anything from government or anyone else for that matter. But probably Shakafuswa has got a point when he says all Zambians should share the blame for the loss of public funds.

This is so because government of and by the people means that citizens of a country share in its benefits and in its burdens. By accepting the task of self-government, one generation seeks to preserve the resources of the country for the next. A free person, when he or she fails, blames nobody but himself or herself.

It is true as well for the citizens of the country who, finally, must take responsibility for the fate of the society in which they themselves have chosen to live. In the end we get the type of society we deserve. If we deserve a corruption-free nation and work tirelessly towards that, we will, in the end, get that type of society.

Self-government, whatever form it takes, by itself guarantees us nothing. It offers instead the opportunity to succeed as well as the risk of failure. In this regard, it should be seen as both a promise and a challenge.

It is a promise in the sense that if we work together and manage the affairs of our country properly, we will be able to serve the aspirations of all our people for economic opportunity and social justice. It is a challenge because the success of this whole enterprise rests upon the shoulders of all of us as citizens of this country and no one else. If we allow a few individuals to steal or abuse public resources with impunity then we have ourselves to blame for the problems this will cause.

It is very difficult to understand why we are able to see someone stealing or abusing public resources and in the process harming the interests of the masses and yet not feel indignant. We don’t even bother to make an effort to dissuade or stop that person or reason with him or her, but all we do is allow him or her to continue with their stealing or abuses.

We have allowed corruption to continue; we have let things slide for the sake of peace and friendship when a person has clearly gone wrong, and we refrain from principled argument because he or she is an old acquaintance, a fellow tribesman or townsman, a schoolmate, a close friend, a loved one, an old colleague or old subordinate; or to touch on the matter lightly instead of going into it thoroughly, so as to stay in good terms. The result is that both the nation and the individual are harmed.

We agree with Shakafuswa’s observation that corruption has become endemic and systematic in Zambia and requires efforts of all actors in fighting it.

Many things may become baggage, may become encumbrances, if we cling to them blindly and uncritically. It is not hard for one to do a bit of good. What is hard is to do good all one’s life and never do anything bad, to act consistently in the interests of the broad masses and engage in arduous struggle for decades on end. This is the hardest thing of all. And this is what fighting corruption and other vices require. It calls for permanent vigilance.

Fr Pete Henriot says Zambians are too passive to take to the streets even when their interests are being harmed by unbridled corruption. This may be true but what we need to know is why they are passive. Fr Henriot is right in his observation that misapplication and/or theft of public funds will continue even in this year’s budget if Zambians remain passive. It will take mass action to stop corruption in this country. Pronouncements or declarations by one individual, no matter how influential politically, spiritually or otherwise he may be will not do.

But with this type of passivity, such mass action will not be possible for a long time to come. But the danger, as Fr Henriot points out, is that there will be no future for Zambia if corrupt practices are permitted and accepted as a norm.

We therefore invite all our people to meditate over this problem and find ways of stopping it. We urge all Zambians to avoid corruption at all costs and condemn it whenever and wherever they see it. Corruption destroys the social structures. It should be the duty and mission of every Zambian to promote transparency, accountability and honesty in society.

And a nation like ours, which has declared itself a Christian nation, should not condone corruption because it is a sin and has drastic evil effects. Corruption is robbing our nation of scarce resources needed to lift out of poverty the millions of our brothers and sisters who every day wallow in extreme poverty.

Corruption in Zambia is doing a lot of harm to the great majority of our people and as such it cannot be left to continue. We have to do everything possible as individuals and as a collective to put an end to it and stop or reduce the suffering of the poor whose resources are being squandered or stolen everyday.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home