As a newspaper that has been following events following the death of President Michael Sata on October 28, we did not envision that the breach of guidelines for use of public resources during the period of national mourning and transition would be spearheaded by top civil servants.
This is because top civil servants, controlling officers to be precise, met at Lusaka’s Government Complex where they discussed how to safeguard public resources and assets, but the resolve is flagging with less than transparent policy shifts.
The truth is that procedural propriety is not a substitute for morality, legitimacy or justification. The abrogation of policy on the pretext that procedure was followed is a false premise for the selective benefaction of individuals.
If policy was changed, it must affect all and not a few otherwise such change of policy is illegal, irregular and therefore corrupt.
When Secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba addressed more than 250 central Government and public sector officials, he stressed the need to maintain economic stability and to safeguard public resources and assets during the transition period.
Mr Yamba reminded the officials that as custodians of public resources and assets, they had a duty to maintain the confidence of the public through prudent management of funds and development of processes which would strengthen management of public resources and adherence to laid down procedures.
He warned that misappropriation, misapplication and misuse of funds would not be tolerated and urged controlling officers and heads of public institutions to ensure that strict financial and asset management guidelines were observed. From this meeting, we expected the senior officials to conduct their affairs with dignity to ensure all assets were properly accounted for when the new President is elected.
But we note with disappointment that while the meeting of the senior Government officials was successful, the purpose of the meeting did not sink in the minds of some officials.
With a few days remaining before Zambians elect a new President, there are public officers taking advantage of the transition period to plunder public resources.
While it is easy to point at a house or a vehicle which has been illegally converted, it is not so easy to trace how other liquid assets are being moved.
We urge security agencies to take an interest in what is happening in the public service to ensure that Government assets are protected.
When Mr Yamba addressed the controlling officers, he revealed that he had requested the Road Traffic and Safety Agency (RTSA) and the Controller of Government Transport to guard against change of ownership of Government vehicles during the transition period.
We are hoping that in the aftermath of the Presidential election on January 20, RTSA will show that there was no Government vehicle which was taken there for change of ownership.
We do not understand the reason for the current rush for conversion of Government property into private hands if the assets have no ownership challenges.
Those conniving to plunder public resources should be mindful that the long arm of the law is never short.