Unity at core of combating corruption

GLOBALLY, corruption remains one of the biggest threats to the attainment of sustainable development goals. Zambia is not an exception.
It is an established fact that corruption destabilises peace, causes violence, conflicts and, above all, erodes human dignity.
Through corruption people are robbed of their wealth and desired development.
Corruption robs the poor in society of an opportunity to access education because even incentives like bursaries and loans are hijacked by the rich and powerful.
When corruption is rife, jobs become a preserve of those with connections and capable of giving huge bribes. As a result, critical positions are filled with wrong or incompetent people void of capacity to add value. This is a direct assault to any growth agenda whether at organisational or national level.
Due to corruption money meant for drugs in hospitals is diverted to individual pockets leading to loss of life because patients are unable to find readily available and much- needed help in time of need.
Many lives are also lost on roads because some people that are charged with the responsibility of monitoring projects and ensuring quality are compromised. Roads become death traps because greedy individuals somewhere opt for bribes as opposed to demanding quality and durable works from contractors.
Needless to say, corruption is a silent killer which needs to be dealt with resolutely and through concerted efforts.
Given the devastating effects of corruption on human life and national development, the need for all Zambians to unite and fight the scourge cannot be overemphasized.
This is why President Edgar Lungu is calling on all Zambians to unite against corruption, for the attainment of the much-desired corruption-free country.
The Head of State says this year’s theme dubbed ‘United Against Corruption’ which has been consistently popularised for the past three years now, is a clear indication that there is urgent need for all stakeholders to place unity at the core of combating corruption.
Certainly we could not agree more with the President.
The battle against corruption is huge and cannot be won through individual or uncoordinated efforts.
The fight against corruption requires the involvement of every Zambian.
It is however saddening that many Zambians, including those in the opposition, have a misguided view that the fight against corruption is only for those in government leadership.
As such, these individuals are always calling on government to address corruption when they are in fact part of the solution themselves.
It is this same attitude that has hampered the fight against corruption.
It must be known that every citizen has the obligation not to engage in corruption.
Corruption is corruption regardless of the level at which it is committed and who has committed it.
How many Zambians today see nothing wrong with bribing a police officer to get away with a traffic offence?
Individuals with such mindsets, if given an opportunity to serve in public offices, will certainly find it easy to ask for or take a bribe.
To get rid of corruption, there is need to inculcate a culture of integrity at individual, family, organisational and national levels.
Families in particular should be concerned with inculcating integrity in children. It is these children who will grow up into responsible adults and leaders.
Instead of watching from the fence, citizens need to be proactive and report any acts of corruption witnessed.
Many people today are sitting on evidence of corrupt activities. Law enforcement agencies can only be successful if they are supported by citizens through whistle-blowing.
Citizens must must be able to report any corrupt activities provided they have solid evidence. This is a more effective way of fighting corruption as opposed to rushing to the media or standing on an anthill to make unsubstantiated claims.
The law enforcement agencies and the courts of law work with solid evidence, not assumptions.
The Head of State has been very categorical that in the fight against corruption, there are no sacred cows and neither should there be sacrificial lambs.
This also puts law enforcement agencies on the spot to do their job professionally. This is because it is also a possibility that an officer from law enforcement agencies can be compromised by corrupt individuals being investigated. This therefore entails that we need men and women of integrity in these institutions.
All in all, we agree with President Lungu in saying, “Let us all do more, even at individual level. The fight against corruption begins with me, it begins with you. We should all reject corruption, hate it with a passion and report all suspicious acts to law enforcement agencies. We should not just complain and do nothing about it. We should all take action, the time is now.”

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