Monday March 17, 2008 [03:00]
NEVER in the history of this country have we seen so many defence chiefs become so rich or affluent. Most of those who served as commanders for the Zambia Army, Zambia Air Force and Zambia National Service under the presidency of Frederick Chiluba are today facing corruption charges in our courts of law. Some of them are lucky they are not being prosecuted because they left a little bit too early before the corruption of the Chiluba regime got really entrenched.
Today we have the former commander-in- chief, Chiluba himself, former Zambia Army commander Lt Gen Geojago Musengule and two former Zambia Air Force commanders - Lt Gen Sunday Kayumba and Lt Gen Christopher Singogo facing corruption charges in our courts of law.
The former Zambia National Service commandant, Lt Gen Wilford Funjika is today languishing in jail for corruption. And Chiluba's intelligence chief, Xavier Chungu, is on the run after jumping bail and he is wanted to come and face corruption charges. And to this list we can add many others in our defence forces that were linked to this corruption but for various reasons cannot be effectively prosecuted.
This is the corrupt situation Chiluba presided over as commander-in-chief. Surely, can anyone be wrong to attribute this massive corruption that permeated and contaminated all the top echelons of our armed forces to the then commander-in-chief's behaviour or attitude? It is said that when a fish is rotten, the waste affected part that contaminates everything is the head. Chiluba's corruption nearly destroyed, if it didn't destroy, our armed forces.
How else can one explain this situation? We had many outstanding generals who left the armed forces with very little, if not nothing. We have the first indigenous commander of the Zambia Army, Gen Kingsley Chinkuli who left the system with almost nothing. He is not a rich man, and today he is humbly serving this country as ambassador to Germany.
We also have Gen Peter Zuze, Gen Malimba Masheke, Gen Benjamin Mibenge, Lt Gen Christon Tembo and even the late Lt Gen Hananiah Lungu. These officers served our country for many years but they are not as rich as Chiluba's generals - the Kayumbas, Musengules, Singogos, Funjikas, among many others.
Why? Is it because they were dim and Chiluba's generals were much smarter? The only discernible reason for the difference between them and Chiluba's generals is that they were not corrupt. They only took that which was due to them. They didn't rape our armed forces and the nation.
Look at what Chungu did to this country! Chungu left the intelligence services as the richest intelligence chief in the history of our country. Why? Is it because Chungu was cleverer than those before him? Certainly not. Chungu, a mere Form 5, could have not been cleverer than the other intelligence chiefs we have had before him. What made Chungu much richer was corruption, abuse of office and outright stealing of public funds.
This is the situation Chiluba presided over as commander-in-chief. Actually, one can rightly conclude that Chiluba was the commander-in-stealing. He was the chief thief. The abuses started with him and went down to the lowest officer. Chiluba's criminal mind contaminated not only our armed forces but the entire government or state system. Never has corruption been more deep-rooted in our state system than in the 10 years of Chiluba's rotten regime.
This is what Dr Kenneth Kaunda is talking about. And rightly so. If Chiluba has got a conscience, let him examine his mind and see how he can explain this whole scenario, this web of corruption. There is nothing offensive about what Dr Kaunda said because it is the true explanation of what happened.
It is indeed sad to see such a nice man, a well brought up officer like Lt Gen Funjika swayed by the general corrupt practices that had characterised the Chiluba regime to end up in jail. Lt Gen Funjika is certainly different from the other arrogant and corrupt idiots that Chiluba promoted to very high ranks just to use them in his corruption. And this is what Dr Kaunda was talking about; it is this that made him sad about Lt Gen Funjika.
There is no excuse Lt Gen Funjika betrayed the Zambian people and the rank and file of the Zambia National Service. And we hope one day Lt Gen Funjika will pick up courage and apologise to the people of Zambia and the officers and men in the Zambia National Service for his crimes against them.
There is no offence against Chiluba in what Dr Kaunda said. The only thing is that criminals, crooks and liars don't like the truth because they don't live by it; it offends and hurts them.
What we need now is to restore the good image of our armed forces so that the Zambian people can once again look at them with pride and respect. Dr Kaunda and his generals took the image of our armed forces to very high heights and Chiluba and his tandem of thieves have brought it down to the lowest levels.
It will take a lot of effort to restore the traditions of honest service, not only in our armed forces but in the whole nation. Again, Chiluba cannot escape blame for this culture of corruption - he nurtured and entrenched it and made it the hallmark of his political survival.
We urge President Levy Mwanawasa, as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces to work tirelessly with the new command of our armed forces to restore honesty and integrity among our men and women in uniform. Armed forces will continue to be an important part of our lives. And nobody should deceive us, or we shouldn't allow ourselves to be deceived, that we can do without armed forces.
We need them and we should spend intelligently and rationally to strengthen them. Of course we don't have a lot of money to spend on our armed forces but with a military strategy, we can have a good army that will be able to defend our country when need arises. Again, this can only be achieved if we succeed in removing corruption, banditry and thieving from our armed forces, especially the very top ranks.