Monday, February 10, 2014

Cost of bad governance
By Editor
Wed 20 Nov. 2013, 14:00 CAT

"Good governance should be a crusade for every Zambian," says finance minister Alexander Chikwanda. We agree. But it is easier said than done. Good governance is an idea which is difficult to achieve in its totality. However, to ensure sustainable human development, action must be taken to work towards this idea with the aim of making it a reality.

Good governance means many things. It means participation of both men and women in the governance of their country; obedience to rule of law; transparency - keeping to rules and regulations in the enforcement of decisions taken as well as making information freely available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by the decision and their enforcement; responsiveness - a good government must be able to respond or serve the people within a reasonable and actualisation time frame for easy assessment of the government in power; consensus-oriented because there are several actors as well as viewpoints in any given society; equity and inclusiveness to ensure that every stakeholder is carried along in every aspect of government and make them feel they have a stake in it and feel not maginalised; accountability is another element of good governance which has to do with rendering account of how material and human resources were distributed to different segments of society for the actualisation of the set goal; effectiveness and efficiency - a government is said to be effective and efficient when it can make use of the available resource, both human and material resource to meet the needs of the society.
In addition, where these qualities are present in a government, it can result in quality healthcare, wealth creation, food security, infrastructure development, employment generation as well as adequate national security and so on and so forth.

Furthermore, if these qualities are missing or non-existent in a government, it means that governance is bad and that it is engrossed in the twin evil of bribery and corruption, disobedience to rule of law, lack of accountability and others by plunging the people into insecurity, abject poverty, unemployment as well as poor state of infrastructure.

Clearly, good governance starts with honest leadership, incorruptible leadership. There cannot be good governance in a country or government where the leaders are corrupt, are receiving bribes, commissions, cuts from transnational corporations and other investors, are selling government fiscal policies and other decisions to the so-called investors.

What is happening with our mines is not a sign or an act of good governance. The country is being made to lose gigantic sums of money from government decisions that are clearly wrong and cannot in any way be said to be a product of oversight on the part of our decision makers. And until these issues are addressed and explained in an honest and clear manner, it will be very difficult for anyone to take finance minister Chikwanda seriously when he talks about good governance because there is everything that looks like bad governance in the way these issues are being managed.

Many issues have been raised concerning the way they have been treating the mines and other investors. And these issues will today and tomorrow require convincing explanations. And people are talking of corruption in the way the affairs of mining corporations in this country are being handled by our government. We have no doubt that a thorough investigation of the mining issues will raise many questions about the way certain decisions have been made.

And if we want to get back to serious good governance, some of the measures that were put in place by Dr Kenneth Kaunda and his UNIP government may need to be revisited. There is need for the source of income of every citizen to be known. We say this because unearned income is prima facie evidence of corruption. Money does not grow on trees. It has to be earned or given to you. If one receives a gift, there is need for transparency on who has given the gift, how much it is and the source of that money. If it is a government official receiving money from an investor, there is need to know what business that investor does with government.

The way some of our leaders in government have been dealing with mining corporations and other investors raises many questions that need honest answers.

In saying this, we are not advocating a witch-hunt; we are simply advocating something that any honest government will try to do; we are advocating measures that would protect good government officials from the temptations of corruption, bribes.

Through corruption, citizens are not only compelled to pay for services that should be free; state budgets are pillaged by corrupt leaders; public spending is distorted as decision-makers focus spending on activities likely to yield large bribes and economies suffer, but also corruption costs in terms of public trust and citizens' willingness to participate in their societies. And consequently, good governance suffers, bad governance takes root.

It is imperative that no one, out of indifference to the course of events or because of inertia, would indulge in a merely individualistic morality. The best way to fulfil one's obligation of justice and love is to contribute to the common good according to one's needs and the needs of others, and also to promote and help public and private organisations devoted to bettering conditions of life.

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