WE WONDER what Zambia’s ranking is this year on the Transparency International’s corruption perception index published each year to highlight the threat of this monstrous, elusive crime which has caused the extinction of some of the most powerful nations in history.
Is corruption in Zambia a mere perception or it is real?
The report that some graduating nurses on the Copperbelt were being asked to pay K5,000 to a total stranger for them to be recruited for employment in Government service, sends shivers in the spines of many. And these nurses were trained by the State to man our under-staffed hospitals, health centres and clinics.
Although they are unemployed, someone with a conscience of steel wants to make a fast buck by tempting these unfortunate jobless nursing graduates with false promises of being put on the recruitment list of the Ministry of Health if they can part with so much money.
According to one of the near-victims of the scam, the Government has changed its recruitment policy of advertising nationally for positions available in the civil service under the Ministry of Health. Now job seekers are being told they can apply individually to any State medical institution which may have a vacancy for nursing staff.
Worse, a job seeker must visit clinics, health centres and hospitals finding out if the authorities there have a vacancy for a nurse. If they do, then the nurse can apply in writing and take the letter to the person in charge. If indeed this Government policy exists, it is a recipe for corruption.
Yesterday, People’s Alliance for Change (PAC) president Andyford Banda made a passionate appeal to Government to curb corruption if the country is to benefit from its resources and achieve unprecedented development under the PF government.
Mr Banda told this newspaper that Government was losing colossal amounts of money through corruption and that only a favoured section of the population is benefiting by being awarded Government contracts because they are properly connected to those in the civil service or politicians.
It is quite clear that corruption, unless fought with vigour as promised by President Edgar Lungu, will take root in Zambia and will be very difficult to eradicate unless steps are taken now to deal with causes of the vice and the people promoting it.
All manner of public workers now expect a favour or outright bribe for doing their job. This is obvious in the Zambia Police Services where officers are not ashamed to demand a bribe in order to allow a motorist escape punishment for being a danger on the road or for a docket to disppear.
Corrupt elements in the Road Transport and Safety Agency dish out driving licenses to unqualified people, some of them public service vehicle drivers who ply the congested routes of this country day and night, risking the lives of innocent travellers.
Some unscrupulous Zambian contractors have wormed their way into the Ministry of Works and Supply and are being awarded lucrative contracts for jobs they cannot do. Instead, they sell the contracts to Chinese firms who do the work while the Zambian businessman laughs all the way to the bank for fleecing the Government with the help of a willing public official.
Corruption flourishes in societies such as Zambia where ordinary citizens have placed so much value on money, power, station in life and the showy exhibition of apparent wealth. Liquid cash has become the difference between life and death.
The corruption pushers say you are dead without money. The love for money and its offshoots of liquor, women and power is what drives corruption.
Unless we all join hands with President Lungu to fight corruption at our individual level, in whatever we do, Zambia may soon find herself on the rubbish heap of history, devoured and swallowed by corruption.