Political Corruption And Poverty In Zambia
Observation And Facts Part 1
The rate of political corruption in Zambia is progressively increasing with
an upsurge in the number of cases where apparatus of government has become an instrument for the enrichment of members of political elites. From 1990’s to date, political corruption and its attendant problems in forms of vote buying, election rigging and manipulation, outright embezzlement by politicians have negatively affected the lives of Zambians. This has led to increased political apathy and distrust in the country’s fledging democratic ideals. In view of the foregoing, the paper examines the extent of political corruption in Zambia, with its implications on poverty reduction. Poverty Eradication Programme has not achieved desired results due to endemic political corruption. Therefore, to reduce poverty, immunities of politicians should be removed, law courts should be strengthened to adjudicate without fear and favour and public annual declaration of assets of political office holders should be made compulsory.
Corruption is Zambia’s biggest challenge. It is clear to every citizen that the level of corruption in the country is high. It’s found in every sector of society. Be it a small or big sector, there is every possibility of observing corrupt practices when critically examined.
What is corruption? It’s the dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery. It is the illegitimate use of power to benefit a private interest . Corruption is the giving of a bribe to an official so that the truth will not be told. It involves the embezzlement of public fund for personal use and any act which is considered to be criminal act according to the law of Zambia.
People have talked, and press companies have been writing on the high level of corruption in Zambia politics, yet the political perpetrators pretend as if they are not the people being talked about. They feel they are above the law.
Corruption takes many shapes, starting with embezzlement, bribery, rituals, rigging in elections and so on. In fact, corruption is highest in the political system. Both the Ministers and President of Zambia , corruption is seen as normal. Where do we start among politicians? It is because of the “wicked level” of corruption that makes both the youths and the old struggle to find themselves in one political party or the other. They believe that once they occupy any position in politics, even the smallest, they will use corrupt tricks to fill their pockets with public funds.
Embezzlement of public funds is common. Many leaders have helped boost the economies of other nations by depositing embezzled money in foreign banks. Facts and figures have shown that on many occasions, the men who rule the country have embezzled funds into foreign banks.
Causes of Corruption
A number of things cause corruption in Zambia, and among them are:
- Poor youth empowerment
Greed has caused a lot of crises in the world, including in Zambia. It is because of greed that political leaders embezzle from the funds they are supposed to use for national development for their own selfish needs.
Poor Youth Empowerment
Poor moral youth empowerment is a contributor to corruption. Increasing of criminal offences by youths, sexual harassment by male CEOs and managers or bosses, and other bad acts are because Zambians lack understanding on the importance of youth empowerment. When parents and governments empower youths both financially and morally, the level of corruption among them will diminish.
According to international standards of poverty, a person is said to be poor when he lives under $1.25 per day. There are many poor people in Zambia, and poverty pushes them into corruption. The poverty level increased in 2011. In 2011, 70% of the Zambian population were estimated to be poor. A person can take bribes to commit crime because he is poor. It is one of the reasons why the poor youths in the country collect bribes to work as thugs for Zambian politicians.
Unemployment is one of the major challenges in Zambia and does not need much explanation because it has broken the hearts of many citizens. People are pushed into corrupt practice because of high unemployment. An unemployed citizen can indulge in corruption to make money and live better.
Effects of Corruption
The negative consequences of corruption are many in Zambia, and among them are:
- Poor investment
- Rise in poverty
- Poor national development
Unemployment in Zambia would have been eradicated to some extent if only investors were attracted to it. Companies that would have invested in Zambia are afraid because they do not know if the corrupt practice will ruin their industries in time. Because of this, they refuse to invest in Zambia.
Rise in Poverty
When the heads of public service are busy laundering the money that is supposed to be used to create employment for the masses and reduce poverty, what happens is that there will be a rise in the poverty level of the country. Just like the rise in poverty as statistically shown between 2011 and 2015. Since the government is selfish and does not want to help the poor, poverty continues to rise in Zambia.
Poor National Development
Any country with high corruption is likely to experience developmental bankruptcy. A situation where some CEOs indulge in corrupt practices to make their money means that economic development will suffer. When Zambians keep on shifting the country’s currency to foreign countries, there will be less economic development in Zambia.
Corrupt Zambians do not truly understand the harm they are causing to other citizens. Corruption can be reduced by these possible remedies:
- Institution of strong anti-corruption groups
- Employment generation
- Proper government funding of schools
- Treating all citizens equally
Self-Satisfaction in this context implies being content with what one has. When the leaders of Zambia are satisfied with the salary they are paid and use them in the right way, the issue of embezzlement and money laundering will be history. Managers who are satisfied with what they are paid will not have time to indulge in corruption to make more money.
Institution of Strong Anti-Corruption Groups
Creating strong anti-corruption institutions is another arsenal to win the fight against corruption. This group is to work independently with the government of Zambia to ensure transparency. Anyone who is caught in corrupt practice by the group should experience the consequences decided by the anti-corruption agency. That he is a minister or president should not be an excuse from facing the punishment he is to receive according to the Constitution of Zambia.
The unemployed in the country find themselves involved in corruption mainly because they want to make money to meet the demand of the day. Governments and capable hands should endeavour to generate more jobs for citizens to get employed and paid in return. A busy mind may find it difficult to indulge in corruption because he is being paid adequately.
Proper Government Funding of Schools
Understanding the importance of skill acquisition will go a long way to propel them to develop all the schools in Zambia. When more attention is paid to the tertiary institutions in the country, it will produce graduates who are employable. Installation of the necessary machines needed in universities will help Zambian graduates acquire skills and use them to generate income, even if no company employs them after graduation.
Self-employment will make graduates more determined in the work they do and will prevent them from committing criminal crimes, corruptions and the rest.
Treating All Citizens Equally
Treating any offender in the country equally will help reduce corruption. Nobody is above the law and any who acts contrary to it should be given the punishment that he or she deserves. That he is the Minister of Finance or Governor of the Central Bank of Zambia should not count in this case. If any minister or president is given the punishment he deserves for corruption, others will learn and separate themselves from any corrupt practice.
Corruption is a cankerworm that has eaten deep into the fabric of Zambia. Discussed are the many faces of corruption, causes, effects, and the possible solutions.
By Honorable Brown C. Kapika
President for Adedo – Zamucano Political Party (Zambia)
President for ‘Beweging voor Burger -en Mensenrechten’ Political Party (Netherlands)
(partij voor de burgerlijke -en mensenrechten)