Thursday, 25 September 2008


By Gershom Ndhlovu

For what I thought would be something to laugh about, last week I wrote to the Anti-Corruption Commission through it’s website to complain about MMD presidential candidate Rupiah Banda’s donations of mealie meal and sugar to people in Katete. This was after the story broke out that he used the occasion to campaign.

To date, I have not received any response, least of all an automated response considering that I used the internet, from the ACC to acknowledge receipt of my correspondence. Now I know why the ACC has not responded to my complaint. Not surprising then that ACC commissioner Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika supports Banda’s candidature and would not want him investigated by officials he is head of for an infraction of electoral rules.

But even more dangerously for the ACC which is supposed to be non-partisan in its operations, Aka says his fellow commissioners are free to support candidates of their choice.

The problem with this argument is that it is setting a dangerous precedent that will be difficult to root out in future when the ACC would be pursuing cases of political nature as some commissioners will look at them with a partisan slant.

My main worry at the moment is that with my perception of Aka’s point of view, it is alright for a presidential candidate to blatantly buy votes as Banda did at Vulamukoko when he dished out bags of mealie meal and packets of sugar to the villagers like Santa Claus dishing out sweets at Christmas.

Aka’s statement on a radio talk show flies straight in the face of Attorney-General Mumba Malila’s advice that politicians should avoid making donations at this time because it would misconstrued as vote buying.

To borrow from human rights campaigns which say something like “Consumer Rights are Human Rights” political corruption is corruption regardless of whom an ACC commissioner supports in a presidential or, indeed, general election.

Aka’s statement clearly affects the already tattered credibility of the ACC which has been surpassed in terms of operational competence even by the Task Force on Corruption which has scored better results in the few years it has been around.

I am sure that the professionals, some of whom I know personally, at the ACC are wringing their hands in despair from such ill-advised and ill-timed statements from someone who is supposed to be the torch bearer for the commission.

The best favour Aka can do the nation now is to step down as ACC commissioner and concentrate on the politically inclined African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) which has no direct bearing on the citizens. If he remains ACC commissioner, a motorist offering a bribe to a traffic policeman may consider it business as usual as no one would care to report it as such (if ever a policeman can report an offer made to him).

Equally worrying, is the long queue of organisations joining to defend Banda’s donations and one of them being the Electoral Commission of Zambia whose director, Dan Kalale said recently that Banda did not break the law when he dished out the goodies.

Yes Dan, Banda may not have broken the law because by then he had not officially been nominated, but morally it was wrong because it was already known that he would be the MMD candidate. What was he doing telling people to vote “pankholoko” if he was not campaigning?

What can be discerned from all what is going on around Banda’s campaign is that he is a man prone to poor judgment when it matters. The Katete donations aside, here is a man who let the constitutional office bearers emoluments Bill go through all the stages in the National Assembly in the face of opposition from citizens only to throw it out at assent stage ostensibly because of the forthcoming presidential by-election. I will not be surprised if the Bill comes back “bigger and better” because the Kwacha will have “lost” value in the interim and Banda, as president, will have no problem signing it into law.

Another occasion when Banda has shown poor judgement was when he told the people from Eastern Province (where I happen to originate) to give him 100 percent votes and ask other candidates to go back where they come from.

Banda also mentioned something like he felt that he knew most of the people in the audience or whatever but I would tell him that I have had more contact with PF leader Michael Sata and UPND’s Hakainde Hichilema than I have ever had with him. In fact, I have never even been less than 10 metres from him on any occasion even as a journalist of 19 years experience.

In the circumstances, you bet who I could give my vote if I were to cast it.

One shudders to think what sort of president RB will be when he takes full control of the Office of President and he is able to hire and fire people as well as influence decisions.



When he attempted to go for a third term of office, South African President, Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki sowed the wind at Polokwane where the ANC convention was held last. Today, he is reaping the whirlwind. He will soon be jobless after being forced out of office by his own party.

It is the same man, Jacob Zuma, who challenged him for party leadership whose supporters have now forced him to resign for allegedly interfering in the corruption cases he (Zuma) faced before the courts of law.

Mbeki denied himself the opportunity to vacate office with grace and dignity by his foolish act of trying to overstay his welcome, believing that he was a God-sent leader of South Africa who should rule eternally. Fortunately enough, the ANC rank and file saw through him by rejecting him at the convention. That rejection has been extended to forcing him out of office which he should have vacated next year.

As I have said on this forum before, political developments in South Africa are always providing the continent with lessons the rest of Africa should be learning from.


Mr Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika has since resigned his position on the Anti-Corruption Commission. 


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