Corruption is a funny thing – because we cannot really know what is really going on behind closed doors in the halls of power, and we tend to assume the worst, but we also seem to be less skeptical about non-transparent standards that most organizations use to corruption ratings.
An example is the latest Annual Corruption Perceptions Index for 2018, published by Transparency International, whose accuracy and fairness is often the subject of controversial disputes. Although there are some clear and worthy goals of Transparency International’s lowest ratings, such as Russia, Venezuela and North Korea, there are many others that are constantly exposed to unfair and biased ratings, although in fact positive progress is taking place right before our eyes.
Among the countries selectively targeted for criticism is Zambia, which in the recent index of transparency recently hit two points (although it is far from clear whether this reflects changes in other countries more than any reality on the ground). A closer examination of the TI rating compared to recent events in the country shows that the opposite trend is taking place.
Although we do not see what many people are saying about this, the truth is that for the first time in a long time we have a government in Lusaka, which has finally achieved some success in the fight against corruption.
In early February, the Zambian Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) made one of the most notorious arrests to date, indicting the influential infrastructure minister Ronald Chitotela, sending a clear message to Zambian officials that no one could be inviolable.
According to the chief spokesman for the government of Dora Celia, the arrest of Chitotela should “instill confidence” in law enforcement and the investigative authorities of the country, while many others on social networks noted this news as a sign that things are going in the right direction.
The arrest of the Chitotela is not a single event, but the latest culmination of the quietly growing anti-graft drive in the country. Recently, Zambia’s efforts to rid its systems of bribery have intensified, which became a clear message that President Edgar Lungu’s agenda for building strong integrity institutions is on track. There is no dispute that President Lungu worked to ensure that the professional system is in place to fight corruption and its agenda for strengthening the institution is bearing fruit.
When the alleged large-scale corruption activities in managing the Swift Cash social transfer were brought to his attention in September 2018, the head of state quickly took steps and made sure his administration was successful – in fact, they managed to return all the funds.
President Lungu also immediately dismissed the then Minister for Community Development and Social Services, Emerine Kabanshi, for not alerting her. This decision was followed by the re-establishment of the Zampost management, when the general of the postal company, MacPherson Chanda, was shown the door.
When corruption charges were filed against the former Zambian Air Force Commander Eric Chimese in August 2018, President Lungu was duly informed, acted accordingly and made the necessary changes to remove him to ensure the integrity of the security wing.
One of the most corrupt wings of the security services cited is the Zambia police, where the government sent checkpoints, which are perceived as channels for bribes, to make sure that they are followed by routine checks.
More recently, the former minister of the North-West province of Fabian Mumba was convicted by Solwezi Magistrate Court for corrupt practices.
In Livingstone, the Anti-Corruption Commission also arrested Livingstone District MP Matthews Jere for abuse of power.