Tuesday, May 21, 2013

'Do not relax in fighting corruption'
By Editor
Mon 20 May 2013, 14:00 CAT

Reverend Richard M'bao has advised the Patriotic Front and its government not to relax in fighting corruption. Rev M'bao says the Patriotic Front and its government has an obligation to seek justice on behalf of Zambians over the plundered economy.

Truly, the pursuit of justice must the fundamental norm of this government. And corruption is an evil that should be erased from every part of our public life, from every level of our government. Corruption has to be consistently fought. And fighting corruption is not a matter of hating individuals but of hating an iniquitous practice that is depriving our people the chance to see a reversal of economic and social fortunes.

What Rev M'bao is preaching is repudiation, rejection and hatred of injustice. Corruption is an injustice that no just, fair and humane society can tolerate.

There is no better love for a corrupt person than to stop him from being corrupt. We were taught that there was a constant struggle between good and evil, and evil had to be punished. We were also taught that those who committed crimes and were responsible for injustice, evil, would be punished in hell. Could that be interpreted as an expression of hatred?

What really causes hatred is social injustice, marginalisation and exploitation of others. That, objectively, is what causes hatred - not punishing those who have stolen from their people, those who have abused public trust to enrich themselves, families and friends. It is a question not of preaching hatred but of explaining a social reality, something that has occurred in our country.

We agree with Rev M'bao that a sitting government has every moral and constitutional obligation to seek justice on behalf of the people whenever issues of corruption and misappropriation of public funds arise, and that it's high time we stopped entertaining crooks. But today we have all sorts of politicians, and even some clergymen, supporting crooks and unscrupulous politicians who have stolen from the people. How can one explain this? How can UPND and MMD justify their support for and defence of the corrupt? How can they label as persecution or political victimisation efforts to bring those who have stolen from the people to account for their crimes?

We all know that unless we remove corruption from our public life, we will not see much development in our country. No matter how much resources we are given, if corruption persists and is not punished and stopped, our people will not see much development. And as Rev M'bao observes, the country will only see development if those entrusted with public offices embrace values of serving people with undoubted commitment and sacrifice.

But we also know that fighting for justice opens one to assaults from the forces of evil. Corruption always fights back and targets those who are in the forefront of attacking it. Wasn't Levy Mwanawasa a target of corrupt elements? They only started praising him after he was dead. Some of them could not even attend his funeral. Levy was a hated man by the criminals. Those who were sent to jail under the efforts Levy exerted to fight corruption are still fighting those who joined forces with him, those who fought on his side against corrupt elements. The fight against Levy by corrupt elements still continues. Even jailbirds, people who have been convicted for corruption at almost all levels of our Judiciary, still cry to have been victims of Levy's political persecution.

With Levy gone, the fight has turned on Michael Sata who is doing almost the same things Levy did, albeit at a different time and in a different way.

Clearly, there is something seriously wrong if a political leader, a political party is supported and defended by corrupt elements, former jailbirds of corruption. And our opposition should be very ashamed of itself for being the darling of corrupt elements. Why are corrupt elements today rallying behind the opposition MMD and UPND?

Of course, people never run out of excuses for supporting wrong causes, wrong things. Some are saying they are not against the fight against corruption but they are opposed to the selective way this fight is being waged. This is not a new argument. We have heard this argument before. It was there during the time of Levy and it was used by similar elements to fight Levy and his fight against corruption. There is no way a mistake in the fight against corruption should drive an honest person to defend the corrupt and corruption.

There is no way a mistake by Michael Sata and his government should drive an honest opposition politician to start defending the corruption he used to expose, the corrupt elements he used to denounce not very long ago. Can hatred for Michael and opposition to his government really justify the embracing of corruption and corrupt elements that we are seeing from our opposition today?

In a big fight like this one, mistakes are going to be made, there may even be collateral damage here and there. But can that justify the total abandonment of such a genuine and legitimate fight by anyone? Again, this is a classical case of those who stand for nothing falling for nothing. It's clear that they were exposing and denouncing that corruption simply because the people who were involved were political opponents or enemies at that time. Now they are their friends and the equation has automatically changed.

They are not against corruption; they are simply against individuals. It's not very long ago that Hakainde Hichilema was calling all these elements he is today defending corrupt and was exposing their corruption. At that time, they were political opponents of his.

Today they are his political allies and they are no longer corrupt; he has cleared them of corruption; they are today victims of Michael's so-called intolerance! What hypocrisy is this? How unprincipled can one be?

There is need to tell the people the truth. And what they should tell the people is that 'yes, these guys stole but they are our friends and we will defend them. Yes, we called them corrupt but that was then because they were not our friends, but now they are our friends'. This is what Hakainde and his friends should be telling the Zambian people, not the lies they are telling them.

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