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Heed Lungu’s warning on corruption

CORRUPTION is one of the greatest challenges of the contemporary world and Zambia is no exception.
In the most common and simplistic way, corruption is defined by many scholars as the abuse of public office for personal gain.
Corruption itself is a general term which encompasses various malpractices ranging from acceptance of money or other rewards for awarding of contracts, violation of procedure to advance personal interests.
It also involves getting kick-backs from development programmes or multinational corporations, pay-offs for legislative support and diversion of public resources for private use.
It also involves overlooking illegal activities or intervening in the justice process.
Corruption presents itself in various forms such as nepotism, common theft, establishing non-existent projects, payroll padding, tax collections and tax assessment frauds and bribery.
The effects of corruption on any country are devastating as it impedes economic growth, distorts competitions, inhibits development and productivity, and undermines the rule of law and good governance.
In all its evils, it hurts the poorest of the poor more.
This is because embezzlement, mismanagement, or misapplication of public funds often leads to a cessation of certain social services, or the non-completion of projects such as construction of roads, schools, or hospitals.
The loss of public funds to corruption also translates inevitably to lack of drugs in hospitals, lack of access to education for millions of poor children, and lack of clean and safe drinking water for the general citizenry.
Corruption also has a way of repelling foreign direct investment because it exposes the country to currency crises and economic retardation.
Given the devastating effects of corruption on the country’s economy, President Lungu should be commended for sternly warning his ministers and other public officials against engaging themselves in corrupt activities and dubious acquisition of wealth.
President Lungu, who sounded the warning yesterday when he swore in five new ministers at State House, is concerned about the alleged growing trend of corrupt activities among some government officials.
The President revealed that there have been constant huge deposits of money in people’s accounts, yet they are not engaged in any business.
“There are illegal acquisitions of land and property. Overpricing is the order of the day. Whether you are big or small, enough is enough. You are but just an individual,” President Lungu said.
From President Lungu’s tone, it is evident that he is resolute on fulfilling his promise of leaving this country better than he found it.
The President understands that, with high levels of corruption, it is practically impossible to make economic and development headway.
The head of State should therefore be supported by all progressive and well-meaning citizens in his efforts to dethrone this monster called corruption.
Ministers and all public officers need to understand that they were appointed in those offices to serve the poor and not to enrich themselves.
It is immoral for any public officer, regardless of rank, to engage in activities that deprive millions of Zambians access to fundamental services such as health and education, among others.
Public officers, including ministers, should understand that the path they have chosen is that of serving humanity and not using the poor as a means to amassing wealth.
The President’s message is loud and clear. There is no sacred cow in his Cabinet.
We, therefore, expect the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to take President Lungu’s statement seriously.
The ACC, as an organisation mandated to fight corruption, have a huge task of ensuring a conducive environment where businesses can compete fairly and government services delivered in a more transparent and professional way.
As President Lungu pointed out, ACC needs to be more proactive in fighting this vice which has crippled many countries.
While ACC is mandated to spearhead the fight against corruption, there’s need for other stakeholders to join in, for this is the only way we will win the battle.