Thursday, June 4, 2009


In recent weeks we have heard of how ministry of health workers and officials diverted funds in the ministry boost their own personal coffers. While the saying, “crime does not pay”, may be applicable in this case, we have to pose and think about the things that feeds this corrupt culture and indeed they are many. However, I would like to draw your attention to a few.

Firstly, the culture of corruption has been fueled by our country’s lack of sophisticated management systems that hold leaders and everyone accountable. For example, in the USA the president’s tax records are public knowledge because they are deliberately published. These records tell the public how much the president made that tax year and where his extra income came from if any. This is not the case in Zambia. The only time we hear of our leader’s net worth is when they are running for political office. Why don’t we institute a system by which we know how much our leaders make every year and how they have acquired that wealth. This will surely keep people accountable.

However, one can make the argument that people will simply hide their ill gotten wealth through corrupt avenues and that is a legitimate argument. However, if we ask for the cooperation of financial institutions and empower the Zambia Revenue Authority to enforce tax codes and an effective tax return reporting system, we will make tremendous headway. But the biggest problem in my view is leadership.

Our current political leaders MUST retire. They have run their course and should accept the fact that they cannot lead Zambia to a better future because they do not know how to lead in this new political and global economic climate. They continue to seek political office because of the benefits they reap through corrupt practices. Corrupt leaders should be pursued and prosecuted and pay a steep price for their corruption. Long prison sentences would help to this end because if someone faced the possibility of a 2o year prison sentence they would think twice about stealing from the Zambian people.

Secondly, poverty is another contributing factor to fueling a culture of corruption. While am reluctant to heap a huge amount of blame on this factor because of the entitlement overtones that legitimize people’s lack of ingenuity in seeking solutions to their poverty, I must admit that it plays a role in creating a culture of corruption.

If government does not make better conditions of service for civil servants a priority, people will be forced to find the much needed extra income elsewhere and corruption is the easiest way. However, this issue also has to be seen from the view of the “corrupter” because it takes 2 or more parties to make corruption work. Why do people pay other people to have certain services provided when such services should be offered upon request without further prodding? Therein lays the dilemma of civil service corruption. I think that if great customer service became a priority and the mantra of our government agencies and that this was acted upon, people would become less inclined to corrupt someone in order to have better service.

In his book “Leading at a higher Level,” Ken Blanchard says that organizations should focus on the triple bottom line: Becoming the provider of choice, the employer of choice and the investment of choice. In a nut shell, government agencies should offer such an excellent service to the public that they become the provider of choice. These agencies should also provide excellent conditions of service that people are waiting in line to work for them and thirdly, if these agencies do the first two things right, then they will attract investment from both the general public and the donor community.

Failure to do these 3 things, in my opinion, will not help the fight against corruption and if anything, this scourge will become an irreversible pandemic affecting generations to come.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ce post m'a beaucoup aide dans mon positionnement. Merci pour ces informations.

- Hugues