Friday, 30 May 2008


By Gershom Ndhlovu

The conviction and sentencing of former deputy minister, Clever Silavwe who is also Nakonde MP should serve as a warning to people serving and those aspiring to serve in government not to tamper with public funds because the long arm of the law will catch up with them.

It is disheartening in the nation in which over 80 percent of the citizens live in poverty for selfish people in leadership to be stealing money which would otherwise go to improve social infrastructure and service delivery for all.

Kudos go to law enforcement officers who work under very difficult conditions especially where investigating the high and mighty in society is concerned for securing the conviction of Silavwe, the former Northern Province minister for fiddling public funds.

But there is also need for citizens to play their role in exposing the crimes by people they chose to lead them. It is not uncommon to hear stories of how some leaders boast that their names would never be found on dubious documents used to filch money from government coffers when it is clear that something wrong goes on in their ministries.

Zambians have in the past tended to admire people who have stolen money from government or the private sector by labelling them as inshimbi or abaume.

But, incidentally, these are the very reasons why standards of education have fallen, roads have deteriorated, why there have been shortages of drugs in hospitals and above all, why public service salaries have remained poor—because of the thieves in government.

I have often said that President Mwanawasa has his own weaknesses, but on the fight against corruption he deserves unequivocal praise because allowing the arrest, prosecution and conviction of a ruling party MP and former minister would obviously be an embarrassment to government.

Silavwe’s trip to the slammer means that there are no sacred cows who would be allowed to steal public funds with impunity.

The nation’s moral compass should be activated by the fact that an MP and former minister has been convicted for fraud which means many others of similar character could be reported, arrested, and if found guilty, sent to Chimbokaila, Kansenshi or Kamfinsa prisons.

Those who have remained undetected should be exposed instead of just admiring them driving expensive cars, building mansions and drinking from ‘30 to 30’ (that is from one end of the month to the other) when the rest cannot make ends meet.

It is really scandalous that some ministers, permanent secretaries, other senior civil servants and parastatal chiefs should be in the forefront of exhibiting extravagance in this way when they are the first ones to claim that government or their parastatal companies have no money to pay improved salaries.

That is why an announcement by Mwanawasa that there is another ministry being investigated for corruption, like the Ministry of Lands where some officials are appearing in court, can only be waited with baited breath.

On that score, this is also the reason why non-governmental organisations which are clearly non-profit making, should be roped in terms of statutory controls because they also lack accountability with some of the NGO leaders also displaying the same extravagance as some crooked government officials.

Is it any wonder that some NGO leaders, vocal on calling on calling on government to be accountable when they themselves are not? If they are not criticising government, the NGO leaders are on Cha Cha Cha Road weaving in and out of hardware shops buying materials for their endless building projects.

I only wonder what happened to the NGO bill that Home Affairs Minister Ronnie Shikapwasha introduced in parliament a year or two ago which unsettled the NGO leadership.

To underscore the importance of fighting corruption in the nation, there is need to not only promote the culture of whistle blowing, but to also protect the whistle blowers who are presently harassed at places of work or even dismissed for reporting dubious activities in their midst.



It is a very big shame that South Africans are repaying the people that hosted them in their darker days with life and limb. Before the South Africans embark on their murderous rampage against foreigners, they need to ask themselves where they sheltered when they were being hunted like rabid dogs by the apartheid regime.

Did they not hide in Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and all over Africa? Is not Tanzania that provided them with military training in their refugee camps? Didn’t Mozambican president Samora Machel die because of trying to secure the freedom of the same South Africans today chasing Mozambicans like animals?

What didn't the Nigerians do to help in the liberation of South Africa? Some Nigerians may be a crooked lot, but their role in the South African liberation struggle cannot and should not be ignored or easily forgotten.

Zambians did not only sacrifice their economy which was once very strong, but they also lost their lives when the racist South Africans were ferreting out the freedom fighters hiding in their midst.

Lest South Africans forget, Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki squatted among the people of M'tendere, yes, you heard me, M'tendere, that shanty township in Lusaka. On one state visit to Zambia, he even visited the township to pay homage to the people there. 

South Africans need to be told in no uncertain terms that they are offside in their bloodletting on foreigners. Their leaders like Nelson Mandela, Mbeki himself and all others should not only send soldiers on the streets for a token ceasefire, they should condemn in no uncertain terms the xenophobic behaviour of their citizens.

For Zimbabweans now caught up in this ugly mess, the buck stops at Mbeki's door. He has dithered for over six years to sort out the political situation across the Limpopo until the matter reached tipping point a few days ago when his countrymen felt they had enough of Zimbabweans and Africans from other parts of the continent.

May be it is time countries like Zambia demanded reparations from the South Africans for the loss of lives her people suffered and the shattered economy she ended up with by supporting the liberation struggle down south.

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