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War against corruption should be extended to grassroots

Dear Editor,
I HAVE hope that all of us who are saying “Amen” to President Edgar Lungu’s war against corruption in Zambia will first seek to abandon our corrupt tendencies, before we can join in the war.
Corruption, as officially defined, is associated with the misuse of power. But this misuse of power should not be viewed only in the context of political power.
I am of the view that those whose duty is to serve the public but who misuse their power for personal gain or to serve a few family members and friends rather than the whole of society should also be made to answer to charges of corruption.
It is a well-known fact that there is more corruption at grassroot which affects the most vulnerable of our citizenry even far more than at the top. Corruption is a culture in public schools, hospital waiting rooms, colleges and universities, in courts, police stations, passport offices, market places, and in both ruling and opposition parties during the adoption of election candidates.
What is even more disheartening is that, there is corruption even in chiefs’ palaces, and worse still in churches. Sadly, the double standards and inconsistencies often applied by our cultural and traditional establishments, as well as certain religious beliefs, have provided our traditional leaders and the pastor with loopholes to escape legal liability.
Incidentally, the men and women occupying these positions seem to enjoy immunity from challenge, far more than the head of state. This, in turn, has created a culture of tolerance for corruption among subjects.
In some cases, corruption in these major social institutions has arisen due to lack of skills of efficiency and effectiveness in the use of resources, which in turn affects both the outcome and returns on development for their people.
It is necessary therefore to adopt a different mechanism and approach to fighting corruption that widely and genuinely seeks to streamline citizen engagement in all steps and stages.
Ordinary citizens should have a way of providing input to the process. Their opinions should not only be listened to, but also respected and acted upon.
The main challenge here is how to engage us the citizens. In this regard, the Anti-Corruption Commission should have an extended role to play.
They should seek to improve their performance, and to represent and advocate for ordinary citizens at all levels of social institutions, and further ensure our voices are heard and respected.
Corruption has undermined our rights not only as citizens, but also as subjects and congregants; and we cannot afford to wait any longer to reclaim them.
Chambishi Mine township