Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Opposition and the corruption fight
By Editor
Tue 04 June 2013, 14:00 CAT

"We must resolutely fight corruption and culprits. The crooks, whether in government or private sector, must be brought to justice without hesitation," urges Fr Augustine Mwewa of Catholic Diocese of Ndola.

Fr Mwewa adds: "Fighting corruption without ceasing and bringing culprits to book is the only way Zambia will see meaningful development. Politicians and individuals resisting the fight against corruption do not mean well for Zambia. A country embroiled in widespread corruption has no future, and posterity will judge harshly leaders that decline to resolutely fight corruption…Those who have stolen from the poor must be brought to justice and in that way, we will set a good precedent and it will be a deterrent to others that would have intentions of stealing public funds, money meant for the poor."

Truly, there are, in the body politic, economic and social, many and grave ills, and there is urgent necessity for the sternest war upon them. There should be a relentless exposure of and attack upon every evil man or woman, whether politician or businessperson, every evil practice, whether in politics, in business, or in social life.

Our plea should not be for immunity but for the most unsparing exposure of the politician who betrays his trust, of the business person who makes or spends his or her fortune in illegitimate or corrupt ways.

There should be a resolute effort to hound every such man or woman out of the position he or she has disgraced.

There can be no neutrality when it comes to fighting corruption. We should seek justice for all and ensure the rule of law for the benefit of all. Seeking justice for all in part includes ensuring that those who have stolen public resources, those who have abused their offices to enrich themselves are arrested and prosecuted and, if found guilty, sent to jail. It also means that those who are suspected of corruption are treated fairly and are given fair trial and the full benefit of the due process of the law. This is what justice means. This is what fairness means. This is what the rule of law entails. It does not mean promoting impunity.

And Fr Mwewa is right when he says that politicians and individuals resisting the fight against corruption do not mean well for Zambia. Today we have politicians whose only discernible preoccupation is to defend the corruption of Rupiah Banda and his associates. This is all they are concerned about. They are not in any way concerned about the interests and rights of the people whom Rupiah and his associates stole from.

With the exception of Charles Milupi, the president of opposition Alliance for Democracy and Development, the leadership of our opposition is defending the corrupt and corruption. Hakainde Hichilema, president of opposition UPND, is today one of the staunch defenders of Rupiah and his corruption. Yet, not very long ago, this same Hakainde was in the forefront of denouncing Rupiah and the corruption of his league. Hakainde has made no effort to explain why he is today defending the corruption of Rupiah, which not very long ago he used to expose, denounce and hammer. This is dishonesty. This is being unprincipled. This is being a liar. And this is what Hakainde is - dishonest, unprincipled, a liar.

The corruption of Rupiah doesn't seem to be a concern to him. What seems to be a concern to him is how to become president of the Republic of Zambia. And in the quest of becoming president, Hakainde is ready to dip his head in a pit latrine of corruption without a feeling of nausea. The stench of Rupiah's corruption is not an issue for Hakainde in his quest for power. Today, this dishonest, this unprincipled, this lying politician is defending what cannot be defended - the corruption of Rupiah. But as Fr Mwewa correctly observes, "posterity will judge harshly leaders that decline to resolutely fight corruption". Hakainde typifies the man who in his life consistently refuses to see aught that is lofty, and fixes his eyes with solemn intentness only on that which is vile and debasing.
Now, it is very necessary that we do not flinch from seeing what is vile and debasing.

Let's get back to politics that is based on morality. Let's get back to the Kenneth Kaunda type of politics based on integrity. Let's try in a new time and in a new way to restore that concept of politics. Let's teach ourselves and others that politics should be an expression of a desire to contribute to the happiness of the community rather than of a need to cheat or rape the community. Under altered circumstances, we war with the same tendencies towards evil that were evident in Kaunda's days, and are helped by the same tendencies for good.

Let us not forget that the individual does best in a strong and decent community of people with principles and standards and common aims and values. And only politicians and political parties that are able to give this or contribute to this should be worthy of the leadership of our people and our country.

Those who seek power or public office must have the self-confidence to want power and to believe that their exercise of it can tilt the country in the right direction. Whatever the problems, challenges, the future of our country will depend on the integrity of its leaders and people. And we must be mindful of this fact whatever the trials and tests ahead.

If those in the opposition want to be taken seriously by the Zambian people, they have to start acting up to different standards than the ones they have been following in the last few months or years. They have to show concern for the interest of the people and not of a few individuals who they think have the key to them getting into power. There is no doubt that on the issue of corruption, the opposition, especially UNPD and MMD, have taken a position or an approach that is bound to destroy their standing in the eyes of decent Zambians.

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