By Gershom Ndhlovu
That a whole generation of defence and security chiefs and their former commander-in-chief, Frederick Chiluba, former ministers and politicians, as well as senior civil servants are either serving jail or are appearing in court for abuse of office and corruption-related cases, speaks volumes of corruption in the nation.
Zambians have always moaned that the fight against corruption always targeted what were normally referred to as “small fish” such as police constables and junior civil servants while the “big fish” always got away. Today former army commander General Geojago Musengule, former ZAF commanders Generals Sande Kayumba and Christopher Singogo, as well as former ZNS commandant General Wilford Funjika are carrying the shameful tag of convict but whether their appeals, for those who have done so, succeed is another matter.
Former health permanent secretary Kashiwa Bulaya and former Zanaco managing director Samuel Musonda are today serving jail, all for abusing the trust of the Zambian people. Politicians such as Regina Mwanza Chiluba and Reverend Gladys Nyirongo are now convicts. What threat to security can their convictions be? On the contrary, Zambians must be happy that, at last, even the big fish are being caught in the net that hitherto, had bigger holes for them to escape, and not just an odd traffic officer, court clerk and immigration officer who probably just wanted to beef up his resources to send his son or daughter to school.
Apart from an odd chief executive who got ensnared in the past, those who almost always got convicted where the junior officers. It is unprecedented that we now have a whole range of people who were once senior government officials and politicians languishing in jail for fiddling taxpayers’ money.
With the theft of government funds as has been revealed, and proved, in the courts of law, the security of the nation was compromised by such acts of dishonesty by the people entrusted to manage national affairs. The security of the nation is not compromised by having thieves locked away. It is the anger of the people who are denied basic services because money is diverted into the pockets of these crooked men and women that threatens the stability of the nation, not the anger of the minority who are now falling like dominoes as they go to jail one after the other.
It is surprising that former defence minister and now opposition MP Ben Mwila and his counterpart, Peter Machungwa, a former home affairs minister, are now using scare mongering tactics about threats to national security that some of the people that served under their very noses are following a bee-line to Chimbokaila Prison.
Junior soldiers and policemen, as other junior civil servants, are equally suffering because they cannot enjoy good conditions of service because the money ends up in their bosses’ pockets. Who does not know soldiers living in Kuku Compound in
Which intelligence officer under the Franklin Xavier Chungu did not know of the extravagance of their boss when he threw those lavish bashes in Mansa celebrating this or that anniversary of his alma mater, St. Clements Boys Secondary School or when he took his friends on jet-skiing trips on Lake Kariba in Siavonga?
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It appears that everyone in government and outside government want to dip their fingers in the national honey pot through hook or crook knowing that at some point they will be protected by someone high up or that someone would use security scare tactics that jailing thieves would destabilised the nation.
General Christon Sifapi Tembo is no more. The man contributed a lot to the Zambian political scene that evolved in 1990/91, but he will be remembered more by political historians as a serving Vice President who challenged his principal, Frederick Chiluba’s third term attempt by sharing a platform with opposition leaders denouncing him at a rally at the Lusaka Roundabout.
General Tembo did not look at the comfort of his office and the privileges that went with it when, along with the then Minister of Education, General Miyanda, addressed a huge rally with UPND leader, the late Anderson Mazoka, under very hostile conditions, saying Chiluba’s move was not only unnecessary and illegal, but very divisive. After the rally, a number of people going to board buses at Kulima Tower bus station were hacked with machetes, beaten and their clothes ripped by MMD thugs who operated from the station.
After that rally, Zambians were even more resolved to block President Chiluba’s third term after they were galvanised by Gen Tembo’s appearance at that rally.
For those who care to remember, Chiluba was in Livingstone at the time and a chopper thought to have been carrying him, flew by the well attended rally. Not too long after, he dropped the idea like a hot potato, dismissed Cabinet, dropping those that did not agree with him and appointed what Edith Nawakwi deemed then as “Government Made Simple” or something similar.
Who knows, if General Tembo had not come out the way he did, Chiluba could have gone for a third term?
Gen Tembo’s democratic credentials were further demonstrated, and even enhanced by the manner he handed over the presidency of the Forum for Democracy and Development to Nawakwi knowing full well that he had lost the party the republican presidency a few months earlier. His contemporaries have lost their parties the republican presidency manifold times and they have continued to try.All I can say is mulute makora akulu.