Saturday, September 10, 2011

MMD can't fight corruption, says Magande

MMD can't fight corruption, says Magande
By Moses Kuwema
Sat 10 Sep. 2011, 14:00 CAT

ZAMBIANS should not expect the MMD to fight corruption once they bounce back to power because they will have too many people to satisfy, says Ng'andu Magande. In an interview, Magande, who is National Movement for Progress party president, said it was not possible that the money the MMD was using in their campaigns was from its coffers or the government.

Magande's comments come in the wake of revelations by the United States Embassy in Lusaka confidential cables released by Wikileaks why President Rupiah Banda has taken a soft stance on corruption.

According to the cables, President Banda told World Bank vice-president that he could not take robust anti-corruption stance because he has multiple constituencies to satisfy.

Commenting on the matter, Magande said it would be very difficult for the MMD to fight corruption because their funding for campaigns was coming from different individuals.

"Definitely it will be very difficult for the MMD to fight corruption because just now I cannot believe that all the money they are using for buying this campaign material is coming from government. This is not coming from government, it is coming from individuals, either the individuals or companies. So if the MMD bounces all these people they will have to look after them and then what will happen to the ones that had no money to help them in their campaigns?" Magande wondered.

He said what this meant was that many people in the country would be observers in what would be happening in the country.

Magande said the people that would make the MMD win are the ones who are going to take control of the country and that this obviously meant there would be a complete discrimination in the way citizens will be treated.

"The President clearly has a lot of constituencies to satisfy. Many people are going to get favours that is the only difficulty that arises. Once you start favouring some of the citizens what about those who have no chance to get close to your office? It means they will be suffering because there will be nobody to give them these favours at that level," Magande said.

He said there was also a danger of people who are favoured by the President to do things with impunity.

"This is where you should try to get as many good people as possible to help you run the government not people who are doing it because of patronage because there will be too many people who will claim that you are the one who allowed them to do certain things even when you are not. So this could cause serious difficulties in trying to balance the fairness," said Magande.

And the cables revealed that immediate-past World Bank country manager Kapil Kapoor said President Banda's "friendship" with the late Frederick Chiluba could be because the former president had incriminating information on the incumbent or he was funding President Banda's 2011 re-election campaign.

The cables, prepared by Michael Koplovsky, then US Embassy charge d'affaires dated October 5, 2009, also revealed that President Banda told the World Bank vice-president that he was committed to fight corruption but he was being "pulled in different directions".

"During a late September meeting on the margins of UNGA United Nations General Assembly in New York, IBRD Africa vice president told the Zambian leader, his trade minister Felix Mutati and State House economic advisor Richard Chembe that Banda needs to deal with the perception that he is soft on corruption," the cables read. "Banda said it would be easier for him to tackle Zambia's corruption problems and the associated perception when and if he is re-elected to a full five-year term in 2011. Banda insisted that he did not fire Taskforce on Corruption leader Max Nkole; he simply decided not to renew his contract. When pressed for the reasons why, Banda responded that he 'needed people who are loyal' to him."

The cables revealed that President Banda said he appreciated the private engagement he had with the donors' troika - the Netherlands, World Bank and United States - heads of mission and wished to keep that channel open.

The cables revealed that Kapoor recounted the New York conversation during a well-attended donors' meeting in Lusaka on October 1, 2009 despite leaks of sensitive information, ostensibly from somebody within that group.

"Kapoor noted that Banda -usually ultra-sensitive to criticism in the media - did not raise recent leaks to the Zambian press. Kapoor speculated on the political pressures to which Banda alluded and concluded that Banda's new 'friendship' with the recently acquitted former president Chiluba is because Chiluba has incriminating information on Banda, has funding for Banda's re-election campaign, can deliver the remote swing Luapula Province in the 2011 elections, or a combination of the three," he stated.

Koplovsky also revealed that the US government regarded Vice-President George Kunda as an obstacle to progress in fighting corruption.

Koplovsky further described Vice-President Kunda as a semi-competent, possibly ill, clumsy pit bull and unimpressive interlocutor whose personal views are unclear according to cables released by Wikileaks.

He stated that Vice-President Kunda, who he described as "a doleful" Bassett hound, had unexpectedly emerged as a clumsy pit bull in the Rupiah Banda-administration.

A pit bull is any of several breeds of dogs in the molosser breed group and many jurisdictions restricts its ownership.

"Kunda was an unexpected and uninspired choice when President Banda named him VP Vice-President in November 2008. Considered lethargic (possibly ill) and semi-competent, Kunda is an unimpressive interlocutor whose personal views are unclear," wrote Koplovsky.

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