By Kombe Chimpinde-Mataka
Mon 02 Dec. 2013, 14:01 CAT
PRESIDENT Michael Sata says his government will ensure the efficient functioning of all anti-corruption structures and systems, including forfeiture of ill-gotten wealth and blacklisting of individuals involved in plundering of public resources.
And President Sata says the government will ensure action is taken against any civil servants and public officials found to have engaged in corruption, including perpetrators of the scourge in the private sector.
Meanwhile, Transparency International Zambia has welcomed President Sata's pronouncement as good but requiring more "walking the talk".
Launching the Anti-Corruption Week ahead of the UN International Anti Corruption Day, which falls on December 9, President Sata last evening said the government was resolved to protect public resources in order to deliver on its mandate.
"You will recall that soon after forming government, we embarked on strengthening the anti-corruption legislation and this culminated in the re-introduction of the abuse of authority clause, the granting of more powers to the Anti-Corruption Commision and the domestication of relevant clauses of these international conventions and protocols into the new anti-corruption Act No. 3 of 2012," President Sata said.
"To this end, our government shall ensure the efficient functioning of all anti corruption structures and systems, including asset forfeiture of ill-gotten wealth and black-listing of corrupt individuals and companies, implementation of laws to ensure exposure of, and action against private sector corruption and quicker processes to deal with any civil servants and public officials found wanting."
President Sata also said his government would forge stronger partnerships across all sectors to deal with challenges of fighting corruption.
He said public servants must endeavour to seriously adhere to the Public Service Code, which the public sector players doing business with government must observe.
"Citizens of this great nation expect a high standard of conduct from their public servants in their provision of public services," he said.
"We are, therefore, determined to build public confidence in the operations of government and this can only happen if the public service begins to seriously adhere to the public service code of conduct and act professionally with integrity at all times during the delivery of services to the public. These transparency procedures and codes of conduct must also apply to the private sector."
President Sata said Zambia had placed high degree of commitment on fighting corruption.
He said Zambia had signed and ratified the African union Convention on Prevention and Combating Corruption and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) protocol on corruption.
"It's indisputable that corruption diverts the scarce national resources from intended areas of public investment, thereby leading to increased levels of poverty, unemployment, social injustice, distortions in cost of goods and services as well as erosion of confidence by investors and cooperating partners," he said.
"Our government shall continue to promote transparency and accountability in matters of public finance, the Judiciary and public procurement."
President Sata said persistent corruption undermines the value of democracy, sustainable development and the rule of law.
"This year's theme is 'Zero corruption, one hundred per cent development.' The theme clearly provides us with a vision for accelerated development once corruption is eradicated," the President said.
"The theme is thus not only appropriate but resonates with our government's development agenda."
He encouraged Zambians to participate in activities lined up for this week, which will culminate into the commemoration of the Anti-Corruption Day on December 9.
Meanwhile, Transparency International Zambia president Lee Habasonda welcomed President Sata's pronouncement, saying now Zambians want to see the government walking the talk.
He said Zambians had begun wondering whether it was worthwhile spending their money following up on suspected ill-gotten wealth when there was little or no return on the same.
"Perhaps we should employ other strategies," Habasonda said.
"Corruption is a complex thing. For us to defeat it, we agree those things must be done, but let's start from the leadership. If he starts with his own party, that's going to be appreciated."
On blacklisting individuals and companies, Habasonda said his organisation had written to the government to deal with an official at Zambia Revenue Authority but nothing had happened.
He also said there were issues at the Electoral Commission of Zambia, which he said was dealing with a company that had a troubled history.
"For us, it's a good pronouncement but we want to see a little more walking the talk. We want to see the Auditor General's report followed up closely…" he said. "At Zesco, we wrote them a letter over a French company which was blacklisted by the World Bank. We want action that we will believe the government means what it says," said Habasonda.
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