Amos Chanda, Edgar Lungu’s press aide, claims it is not possible for one to steal government funds when they are in public service. Can this be true? What about the Zamtrop account thefts and other cases of theft of public funds?
Amos says it was incorrect to assume that he had stolen “so much money” based on his flamboyance.
“Look, if you see Amos Chanda with a Rolex watch, the assumption is that he has stolen so much money. [But] do you know that I was a special envoy to a foreign Head of State? It is rude, it’s unacceptable [and] it is undiplomatic to refuse a gift that is given [to you]! But you people will take a picture and say now he is got a Rolex! What do you do in that circumstance? Even I went with a certain copper gift and when you present, you actually don’t know what is in that [parcel]. [But] this is it (shows his wrist watch)!” says Amos.
DaShanne Stokes advised, “When you’re dealing with frauds and liars, listen more to what they don’t say than what they do.” Indeed, as they say, ‘Truth is hard, propaganda is cheap…Leadership by deception isn’t leadership. It’s fraud.’
We all saw and know what Amos was wearing before he went to State House. We saw and know what type of car Amos was driving before he got a job at State House. We also saw and know what type of house Amos lived in, owned or did not own before he was appointed to the public service.
It’s also not a secret what salary Amos receives from the government every month. It’s also not difficult to ascertain what Amos makes in travel allowances. In a word, Amos’s earned income is not difficult to ascertain.
Amos can receive expensive wristwatches and suits as ‘gifts’, but can this be extended to houses, cars and so on and so forth? Has Amos become rich, prosperous through gifts?
It’s said that living beyond one’s earned incomes is a prima facie case of corruption. It’s not a secret that most of those working at State House have become very wealthy in a very short time. Edgar’s net worth more than doubled in his first year at State House. How did this happen? And here we are not speculating – it is from his own declarations. Who doesn’t know who Kaizar Zulu was and had or did not have? Look at what he today owns, his net worth!
The problem we have in Zambia is that a sitting president can’t be indicted for any criminal offence. And failing to indict a criminal sitting president sends the message that those in power and those around them are above the law. A president cannot defend a nation if he is not held accountable to its laws.
Ethics and oversight are what you eliminate when you have a government of a president whose corruption and abuses are placed above the law. This is unacceptable. Accepting fraud from our leaders means accepting fraud in our personal lives. Corrupt governments are run by corrupt politicians that run corrupt law enforcement agencies.
Where there’s corruption in government, somebody or everybody is making a lot of money. That makes it dangerous. Borrowing from Thomas Love Peacock, we ask: is ours a government of the people, by the people, for the people, or a kakistocracy rather, for the benefit of knaves at the cost of fools? Some people can tolerate corruption as long as it is their leader involved. We have lived long enough to see most of our friends that shouted anti-corruption slogans against the government having no problem receiving bribes and paying bribes when in government. You cannot fight corruption with corruption; all forest fire starts small and eventually grows massive.
If you vote for a corrupt leader because he belongs to your political party, tribe, you deserve everything you asked for – crime, robbery, violence and so on and so forth. Anti-Corruption is not just a slogan, shouting about anti-corruption doesn’t make you a pro-clean government person, it is your action that counts. If you know the politician you support is corrupt but you are willing to close an eye, you are not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.
As Bono correctly observed, “The worst disease in the world today is corruption. And there is a cure: transparency.” Corruption is authority plus monopoly minus transparency. And fascism thrives in obscurity and darkness. A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.
There is no persuasiveness more effectual than the transparency of a single heart, of a sincere life.
When you open the door toward openness and transparency, a lot of people will believe in you, respect you and follow you through. If you are precise in your thoughts, it’s not the lines you say that are important – it’s what exists between the lines. What people are compelled by most is that transparency of thought, what is left unspoken.
At the dawn of his administration, Barack Obama opined: “A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency.” We need more transparency and accountability in government so that people know how public officers are acquiring wealth, are becoming richer and how public money is being spent.
It is said that the currency of leadership and public service in general is transparency. You’ve got to be truthful. We don’t think you should be vulnerable every day, but there are moments where you’ve got to share your soul and conscience with people and show them who you are, and not be afraid of it.
We believe that transparency is the solution to our problem on corruption and corruption allegations or suspicions. Today’s political culture demands more transparency and more public accountability from every aspect of national life. And transparency is not about restoring trust in institutions; transparency is the politics of managing mistrust. A good leadership delivers on its promises. A good leadership nourishes the needs of the people, has transparency and integrity, and creates provisions for it to be challenged openly. A good leadership expands the freedoms and well-being of its people rather than limiting them.
We must improve the Zambian people’s confidence in, and perception of, their leaders and public servants by increasing transparency, strengthening oversight and safeguarding freedoms and rights of citizens. In all of our efforts, we must continue to emphasise the importance of inclusivity and transparency on the part of the government and leadership.
To be truly powerful, you have to be transparent and you have to have a very clean reputation. Power comes from transparency and a track record of honesty and incorruptible spirit. There can be no faith in government if our highest offices are excused from scrutiny – they should be setting the example of transparency. Today, the reality is that the workings of our governing system are opaque and covert, while hiding in the chattering spotlight of an ostensible transparency, even though the ultimate objective is clear.
Openness, transparency – these are among the few weapons the citizenry has to protect itself from the powerful and the corrupt. It is said that transparency never damages a cause that is just. There is not a crime, there is not a dodge, there is not a trick, there is not a swindle, there is not a vice that does not live by secrecy. Evil is nourished and grows by concealment.
Mother Teresa said, “Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.”
Transparency breeds legitimacy.