THE revelation by the Examination Council of Zambia (ECZ) that it has confiscated 100 forged Grade 12 certificates from Zambian politicians following the screening exercise of candidates vying for political office in the August 11 general election, is not only alarming but such a disgrace.
If the Government had not decided to subject the process to such a rigorous exercise, we were going to be ruled by a bunch of impersonators claiming to hold Grade 12 certificates when they were not qualified and many of them had never sat for the exam.
If the number of cheaters was five, it would have been serious – but 100!
Among them were leaders vying to become Members of Parliament, executive mayors and chairpersons of city and district councils as well as ward councillors. These are critical positions in the governance of the country and they were going to be held by not only incompetent people but corrupt and fraudulent elements.
Thank God that those who enacted the new amended Constitution were inspired to include the controversial clause and its adherence to procedure to ensure that those who made the grade were genuine and the chaff would be cast aside.
What worries us most is the fact that the scandal of the Grade 12 cheats at political level could be the tip of an iceberg. There could be thousands of employees, many in strategic positions in the civil service, the defence forces and industry, who are not supposed to be there. They lied their way onto the payroll and they are paid salaries they do not deserve.
This could be part of the reason why some key national institutions are not ticking. It could be that they are manned by wrong people who are not qualified to hold those positions. One wonders how many such people are found in sensitive institutions of governance and security organs.
ECZ director Michael Chilala, who announced the unearthing of the political cheats in Lusaka yesterday, warned that after the numerous cases of examination fraud by party candidates during its meeting of July 18th 2016, all training institutions in Zambia, employers and employing agencies must in future consider submitting all certificates or statements of results of their employees and applicants for verification by the Examination Council of Zambia to root out massive fraud in the employment sector.
The move would help the ECZ confirm the authenticity of the qualifications and true identity of owners of those certificates. This would help expose the cheats who are giving Zambia a bad name. Instead of burning the midnight oil to empower themselves and their families, some are stealing other people’s qualifications or manufacturing fake papers to get themselves a job.
Others use their dead relatives’ certificates to pose as diploma holders, university graduates and holders of qualifications from highly respected foreign tertiary institutions. Once they have cheated themselves into a job they can hardly perform, they start boasting about their good fortune and look down upon those who are genuinely qualified.
Now that it has become clear that there is massive fraud in the job market, we call upon the Zambia Federation of Employers, the mines, industry and the Government itself to clean up their employment registers in order to flush out the bad eggs.
Only then can Zambia avoid the tag of a nation thriving on fraud.