Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Corruption has made life difficult for many - Vigtel

Corruption has made life difficult for many - Vigtel
By Sandra Lombe-Mulowa
Wednesday November 21, 2007 [03:00]

CORRUPTION in Zambia has made life difficult for many, outgoing Norwegian Ambassador Terje Vigtel has said. In an interview on Monday, Ambassador Vigtel said his worst experience in Zambia was being exposed to corruption. He said that corruption had affected development, the health and education sectors among others in Zambia.

"Corruption is one way of misusing development money, hence the poor are remaining poorer because they cannot access facilities (health, education, among others).

The money is used for other areas, so poverty is more," he said. "It (corruption) is undermining people's confidence in the system, government and all over."
He said if corruption was fought, people's lives especially the poor in rural areas, would be uplifted.

Ambassador Vigtel said his visit to some areas in Southern Province had proved that people had no access to information, newspapers, and medicines and had nothing to invest in and that there was also a shortage of finances.
Ambassador Vigtel said corruption was still a very big problem that was affecting the poor more.

"It is damaging both locally and internationally. The Task Force on Corruption has done well on 'big' corruption, but to 'small' corruption there is no progress. It's a shame that we still have petty corruption. We need to enforce the law and prosecute," he said. "It's damaging to the people, it's a terrible thing for the poor, the poor will suffer always. It's difficult to be poor in Zambia."

Ambassador Vigtel said that his worst experience was being exposed to corruption.
"People offering (bribes) should be the first to be punished since they are offering. You (Zambia) are moving well but there are still some stumbling blocks. If anyone is willing to pay anything, people will always continue asking," he said.

Ambassador Vigtel also said a visiting Norwegian member of parliament had been asked to pay money if the public bus she was on had to proceed at one of the roadblocks.

And Ambassador Vigtel said his best time was working with the people in rural areas.'
"I enjoyed working with the people in rural areas and how they stick to agreements. Some have stopped begging after we helped them with projects. They first had to contribute 30 per cent before we committed the 70 per cent. It's encouraging. You have very hard working people, but they need tools to work," he said.

And Ambassador Vigtel said despite Zambia making some headways in development, there was still need to vigorously fight poverty.

"Progress in the fight against poverty is a challenge. There has been good economic and macro development due to stable government which has stabilised the economy. But government has not been able to find ways and means of positive development, not so much change is being seen," he said.

He expressed optimism that in 20 years time, Zambia would be a fairly rich country.

Ambassador Vigtel emphasised the need to seriously invest in education if the country was to develop. He also said the Norwegian government had given Zambia an extra US $5 million as support towards the climate change programme.

"We got a letter a few days ago. We want to work closely with government on climate change," said Ambassador Vigtel.

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