The performance of our institutions of governance has come under very serious scrutiny following very glaring mistakes and displays of incompetence indicative of dysfunction or deliberate sabotage. Contracts that should never have seen the light of day are not only allowed but are flaunted publicly with impunity.
Some institutions of governance have are of no use anymore and yet Zambia now, than at any other time needs strong, impartial and committed governance institutions that must engender integrity , probity and decency.
Such institutions as the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC), Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) and Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) have lost their place in the general scheme of governance because they have failed to prevent and forestall acts of corruption, irregularity and plunder.
To a large extent even our judiciary has become a shelter for brazen impunity. Individuals run to the judiciary to buy time in the hope that a more favourable regime may emerge when their sins will be swept under the carpet.
As a result in the absence of strong and reliable ACC the country will continue to suffer massive and monumental losses in shady and highly inflated contracts in some of the most sensitive areas of our economy. There is a catalogue of such irregularly awarded contracts which the ACC has failed to investigate in spite of a huge public outcry.
Among these is the Trafigura oil procurement scandal.
Most recently the country was treated to the specter of contaminated feedstock at Indeni which cause considerable damage to the plant. No investigation seems to have been undertaken although all indications are that there was collusion along the line to import the feedstock that will damage the equipment. Elsewhere this would have been treated as sabotage.
There is urgent need for the government to review the competence, function and organizational effectiveness of institutions such as ACC, ZPPA, Drug Enforcement Commission, Investigator General and a host of other institutions to determine their value in governance.
We have such institutions as Zambia Public Procurement Authority, which is supposed to provide oversight and supervision in the award of contracts involving public institutions. There has never been any occasion when this body has questioned even the most glaring awards such as the Trafigura Oil deal.
They give the impression that such corruption is authorized by the political leadership.
Contractors in the road sector have also complained of highly selective procurement procedures which are often tailor made for specific contractors.
Even when government has made a policy decision with regard to Zambian participation in the project, it has failed to provide guidance and supervision with the result that contracts that should be performed by Zambians are often left to foreign interests.
This means that money that should circulate within the economy is externalized and skills that should be developed are neglected in preference of foreign employees.
It is not true that Zambian companies are incapable of undertaking major capital projects. They often simply denied the opportunity and for as long as there is no credible oversight institutions these practices will continue.
Time has come for Government oversight institutions to play their role and save the country from needless loss and abuse.