Saturday, March 06, 2010

Does Rupiah want to stop corruption?

Does Rupiah want to stop corruption?
By The Post
Sat 06 Mar. 2010, 04:00 CAT

Bob Sichinga, with his usual intelligence and highly penetrating mind, has made very interesting observations and has asked a very pertinent question about Rupiah Banda and corruption. Bob says Rupiah can put an end to corruption within the government if he wanted to, but the question is: “Does he want to?”

Bob has not given a direct answer to this question, although its not difficult to discern his view on this. However, we will not try to speak for Bob or put words in his mouth.

We will attempt to answer Bob’s question. In our view, Rupiah doesn’t want to stop corruption and he is incapable of stopping it.

We say this because Rupiah can’t survive politically and otherwise in an environment free of corruption. In an environment free of corruption, merit prospers; greed, deceit, lies, manipulation and corruption fail. And without lies, deceit, manipulation and corruption, Rupiah will not be able to survive for long in that office and in our politics in general. Rupiah is where he is today because of lies, deceit, manipulation and corruption.

To become president, Rupiah had to resort in various degrees to these evils. Who can deny that in the 2008 elections Rupiah was involved in electoral bribery? Money and other goods were flying around in all directions to buy or manipulate weak souls so that they give him their support and votes. Sugar and mealie-meal were being distributed to voters in the view of everyone.

And these corrupt practices are not new in Rupiah’s politics, in his life. He did the same in 1991. There are undeniable records of Rupiah’s corruption in this regard.

Rupiah cannot stop corruption because without it he will not be able to achieve the purpose and meaning of his presidency. Rupiah is not in State House to serve the people of Zambia heart and soul; he is there to serve himself, his family and friends and to be served.

Within just a very short time, the financial fortunes of Rupiah and his family have changed beyond recognition. His children who were in serious financial problems are today awash with money and are proud owners of this and that; they are the suppliers of this and that; they are the brokers of this and that deal – they are literally behind every meaningful deal. What has made this possible?

What has made it so easy for them to recover from their financial doldrums and overnight become so rich? The only reasonable explanation for this is that Rupiah’s presidency has been used as a ladder for their prosperity. And whichever way one wants to look at this, it cannot be explained in any other way other than it being a product of corruption.

To retain power next year and to keep enjoying these business deals and the huge amounts of money that they generate, Rupiah has to continue doing what they have been doing – travelling on the path of corruption, of abuse of power in the most arrogant and insensitive manner.

This is why Rupiah has no quams engaging in the most naked forms of corruption like that of shielding Chiluba from meaningful prosecution. Rupiah has made it very clear that he will not allow the state to appeal against the acquittal of his friend Frederick Chiluba who was acquitted of corruption charges in the most questionable manner – a manner that leaves no one guessing what must have happened.

Rupiah needs Chiluba. But for what? For corrupt politics – politics based on tribalism, regionalism, manipulation, lies, deceit and corruption. Rupiah needs the support and assistance of corrupt elements to stay in power. Honest people cannot help to sustain Rupiah in power because with his serious lack of merit, they will not be able to sell him to the electorate.

An honest account of Rupiah will simply make him unelectable. Therefore, lies, deceit, manipulation and corruption have to be resorted to sustain him in power. How else can Rupiah remain in power if not with lies, calumny, manipulation and corruption?

For these reasons Rupiah cannot fully commit himself to fighting corruption. The most he can do is to pay lip service to the fight against corruption. Not even the most corrupt politician can go to his people and tell them I am for corruption; not even Zaire’s Mobutu could do that.

Even Mobutu used to fire some people for stealing public funds when he himself stole more than US$ 5 billion from the humble people of that rich but poor country. So no one should expect Rupiah to openly say that he supports corruption.

He lives by it and survives on it, but he will not be able to openly say he is for it. We can only judge Rupiah’s commitment to the fight against corruption on the basis of his deeds. It is said that “doing is the best way of saying”. Thus, Rupiah’s position on corruption can only be seen through the way he lives, his daily actions. Living is the best way of believing.

There is no way a person who is opposed to corruption can defend corrupt elements and their corrupt deeds the way Rupiah is doing it. Rupiah has come out openly to defend and protect Chiluba and his tandem of thieves. And Rupiah is today handing back to these thieves their loot that the state had rightly confiscated.

And this same Rupiah is today dilly-dallying in getting the London High Court judgment that was obtained by the Zambian government through George Kunda as Attorney General. This judgment would enable the Zambian people to get back something from what was stolen from them. It is impossible to imagine how Rupiah will do this when today he is busy handing back stolen property to these same people just to come and retrieve it later.

Clearly, Rupiah has no intention of enforcing the London High Court judgment against Chiluba and his crooked friends. After all, he has been going round saying Chiluba is innocent despite his government holding the London High Court judgment against Chiluba in its hands.

A person who behaves in this way cannot in another breath be expected to stop corruption in this country. It is clear that Rupiah is not for a Zambia that is free of corruption. Rupiah is a defender of corruption.

If one is truly honest, if one is truly opposed to corruption, one cannot defend corruption, he cannot be corrupted. If one is unassuming and has a clear understanding of the worth of his fellow citizens and of himself, one cannot defend corruption and resort to corrupt means to stay in power the way Rupiah is doing.

Rupiah does not inspire confidence in the fight against corruption. He has done everything possible to undermine the fight against corruption. Government officials and their friends in the private sector are no longer scared of abusing their offices and stealing public funds as long as they are close and in good terms with Rupiah. Being in good terms with Rupiah is all that matters.

We cannot develop our country and overcome the many problems our people are today facing with a political leadership that looks at things in that way. To make Zambia rich and strong needs several decades of intense effort, which will include, among other things, the effort to practice strict economy, combat waste and eradicate corruption from government dealings, that is, the policy of building our country through honesty, diligence and frugality.

The principle of honest public service, diligence and frugality should be observed in everything. We must particularly advocate diligence and frugality, we must pay special attention to economy. Wherever we happen to be, we must treasure our limited material resources, and must not take a short view and indulge in wastefulness and extravagance.

In order to speed up economic development in our country and move the great masses of our people from poverty, we must do our utmost to ensure that public resources are utilised in the most efficient, effective and orderly manner and take resolute measures against anyone destroying, abusing or stealing them and pay attention to thrift and economy.

Thrift should be the guiding principle in our government expenditure. It should be made clear to all government workers and public officials that corruption and waste are very great crimes. Our national campaign against corruption under Levy Mwanawasa, weak and limited as they might have been, were starting to show some positive results. We have lost our bearings on this score and there is need for us to get back in the right direction.

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