Saturday, November 03, 2007

Funjika’s conviction

Funjika’s conviction
By Editor
Saturday November 03, 2007 [03:00]

The conviction of former Zambia National Service (ZNS) commander Lt Gen Wilford Funjika is a strong message to plunderers and other criminal elements in society, who think they can defeat the cause of justice with all sorts of tricks and clever schemes. For a long time, these characters who have been accused of plunder of our national resources have refused to admit doing anything wrong and have been fighting to frustrate the cause of justice using various tricks, including delaying tactics. They want to retain the benefits of their ill-gotten wealth and have accused their accusers of persecuting them.

We have always said that evil cannot triumph over good. And the truth will always come out, no matter how long it is delayed. After that judgment by Ndola High Court Deputy Registrar Jones Chinyama, can Lt Gen Funjika and all those that condone corruption today stand up and cry that the Task Force is persecuting him?

It is said that the riches one gets through dishonesty do not take time to disappear. And before they disappear, they lead such a one into the jaws of misery and tragedy, like Lt Gen Funjika has today been led to prison, although his ill-health has saved him, for the corrupt activities he engaged in during the time he served as ZNS commander.

The Bible in Ecclesiastes states that there is time for everything. Lt Gen Funjika, like many others who during Frederick Chiluba’s time involved themselves in the banditry and looting of public coffers, accumulated thousands of British Pounds and US dollars as kick-backs for the contracts he corruptly offered his friends without following tender procedures. Now, it is time for them to account for their banditry.

It should always be remembered that anything that comes from evil and injustice does not last. The wealth that these plunderers accumulated is slowly evaporating.

A lot of their ill-gotten properties and other assets, including liquid cash in hundreds of millions of kwacha, have been confiscated by the Task Force on Corruption. Some people who have so far been convicted for corruption have forfeited their property to the state.

Only this week, Lt Gen Funjika was ordered to pay the state 15,000 British Pounds, which his children received as benefits from some company as a result of his corrupt activities.

These are good developments for those well-meaning Zambians who detest corruption and would like to fight it at any cost. Corruption must be denounced in the strongest terms possible because it is evil and a heavy tax on the poor.

And when justice is done, when corruption is fought, good people are very happy; they celebrate. But the evil and wicked people are brought to despair and desolation, so they want to deceive our people that this fight against corruption is not important and will not yield the desired results.

They want to make our people believe that corruption, and its related offshoots of pilferage of public resources, has always existed, exists today and will continue to exist tomorrow. They want our people not to be on guard, not to be vigilant.

They say people fighting against corruption are doing so for political expedience because they are not genuine about it. Yes, this may be correct in some cases.

But doing something about this cancer, which is daily eating into the fabric of our society, is better than doing nothing about it. Today, many civil servants are scared by the mere mention of Task Force or their realisation that it is in existence.

We would like to believe that many of our civil servants and public service workers have been forced to avoid corrupt activities simply for the fear of being visited and paraded in court by the Task Force.

This is not to say all is well in the Task Force. The Task Force has its own difficulties and challenges but the work it is doing for the nation is great and commendable.

That is why it will be wrong to put together its objectives and failures. Doing this will be like one pointing to the stars or the moon and all that other people can see is his finger-tip.

What we are saying is that no one should be allowed to mislead our people into focusing on the incorrect or insignificant part of the matter and miss the most important part.

There are also lessons for President Levy Mwanawasa and his officials in government to learn from what is happening today in as far as corruption is concerned.

It should be realised that the bells tolling for Chiluba and his former officials today can toll for Levy and his colleagues if they do not avoid the looting and banditry that characterised Chiluba’s regime.

Let the past mistakes be known and let us ensure that these mistakes are not repeated today or in future because this is the essence of learning history. Nelson Mandela says, “the past is a rich resource on which we can draw in order to make decisions for the future”.

He also says that the purpose of studying history is not to deride human action, nor to weep over it or to hate it, but to understand it and then to learn from it as we contemplate the future.

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