Corruption in Zambia has become a beast running out of control – TIZ

Transparency International Zambia president Reuben Lifuka says the tragedy of Zambia is not necessarily high levels of corruption but rather normalisation of the scourge.

Lifuka observed that corruption in Zambia had “become a beast running out of control.”

Launching the Zambia Bribe Payers’ Index Survey Report in Lusaka yesterday, Lifuka regretted that Zambia continued to invest more resources to “diagnose” the problem of corruption when it was already known.

The Zambia Bribe Payers’ Index Survey, according the Transparency International Zambia (TIZ), joins the ranks of several other corruption measurement tools, which serve to highlight the type and magnitude of the corruption that the organisation had to contend with.

“We have the Auditor General’s Report, the Trends Analysis from the Financial Intelligence Centre, the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, the Basel Anti-Money Laundering Index and several other international and local governance indicators. We additionally have the local Bribe Payer Index which is intended to assess citizens’ experiences with corruption when they go to seek services from public institutions,” Lifuka said.

He noted that the country’s challenge was that its citizens were in denial that “we have a monumental problem.”

“As a result, our response is tentative and we have probably all failed to adequately address this problem. Government finds solace in passing laws which are never fully enforced or making policy pronouncements which are partially implemented. We are happy to report on our minor achievements and this has made us complacent. Government leaders continue to make light of the problem and we hear statements like ‘corruption is sensationalised in Zambia.’ Well, corruption strips people of dignity and its consequences impoverish the people. Similarly, as civil society we are quickly content when we undertake a research and disseminate findings or issue a press statement condemning corruption,” Lifuka lamented.
“…the media are not spared in this malaise and for instance, today and tomorrow may be the only time that the story of this launch will be carried. There is no follow-up to many stories of corruption in this country. There is penchant for media reporting on events and not on substantive analysis as to the reasons and drivers of corruption and on solutions to the problem.”

He further pointed out that despite data indicating corruption in the country, “we are not doing enough to address the problem at hand.”

“Corruption has become a beast running out of control! It is a little bit like middle-income parents who want to pamper their only son and buy for him a small lion cub which is pretty, cuddly and looks every bit like a dog. In a few years, this cub becomes a menacing lion. One morning, the family wakes up to a huge roar and people screaming for help…. Clearly, this beast is out of control and is no longer the problem of the family alone but the community. The beast has tasted blood and needs to be put down,” Lifuka said.
“The tragedy of this country is not necessarily that we have high levels of corruption [but] our tragedy lies in what I call normalisation of corruption. Reports like the ZBPI (Zambia Bribe Payers’ Index) and several others do not move us to action. A traffic policeman asking for a bribe has become normal. A motorist who is caught over-speeding, offering a bribe to a police officer has become normal. A supplier or contractor giving kickbacks to get a government contract has become normal. A government leader receiving a gift which he should not have received in the first place is nothing but normal and so is a lecturer demanding payment in kind for grades and a businessman offering bribes to have his cheque pushed ahead of the queue.”

Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) director general Kapetwa Zachariah Phiri said: “Despite some challenges, I wish to assure you that the Commission will not relent in its efforts to ensure that the levels of corruption in the country are reduced. I therefore call upon all stakeholders to come on board and join hands in the fight against corruption.”

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