BRITISH High Commissioner to Zambia James Thornton says the government can demonstrate its commitment to tackling the culture of impunity by registering the London High Court judgment against late Frederick Chiluba.
And United Nations country team coordinator Kanni Wignaraja says the cost of corruption is measured not just in the billions of dollars of squandered public resources but in the absence of significant infrastructure like schools and hospitals.
Meanwhile, acting Vice-President Wynter Kabimba says no speech will in future be read during a public event without the approval of Cabinet Office.
During celebrations to mark International Anti-Corruption Day at the Government Complex yesterday, High Commissioner Thornton said there was need for the government to secure Zambia from all forms of corruption, which he said was theft.
He said a London court found Chiluba guilty of corruption involving around US$46 million and that the government of Zambia could demonstrate its resolve to rid the country of impunity by registering the judgment.
"The British government will help bring perpetrators of corruption to justice and recover stolen assets," High Commissioner Thornton said. "The British government has zero-tolerance to fraud and corruption."
He said corruption also made a country less attractive for foreign companies and urged the citizenry to make politicians involved in corruption know that what they were doing was unacceptable.
High Commissioner Thornton said the British government had been funding the Anti Corruption Commission for the last 20 years and it believed that the institution was a shining light among the Zambian government institutions.
"There has been good progress on investigations and convictions over the last year, for example, Mr. Austin Liato," he said. "Unfortunately, this year, there have been some setbacks. Like others, we are disappointed with the acquittal of Mr. Henry Kapoko but, of course, we recognise that the due process must be followed and we note the Anti Corruption Commission's decision to appeal."
High Commissioner Thornton, however, said it was vital for institutions such as the ACC to be able to continue their work without political interference.
"Good progress has been made but we must not rest on our laurels," said High Commissioner Thornton.
And Wignaraja said at the same occasion that the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals MDGs had suffered a setback due to the adverse effects of corruption.
She said a rapid economic development and a slow democratic development brought challenges and complexities among national anti-corruption agencies and that as Zambia heads into middle-income country status, the combating of the vice becomes much more than a signaling device to the market.
"No country is free of corruption. But the greater this scourge, the closer people get to saying enough is enough," she said.
Wignaraja said young people were a key in the fight against corruption as it was they who would choose clean leaders and choose to be clean leaders themselves in future.
African Parliamentarians' Network against Corruption APNAC president Cornelius Mweetwa said the fight against corruption had become the core focus in the promotion of democracy and development.
He said the fight against corruption should not just be targeted against the weaker members of society and opposition politicians but also extended to those in the echelons of government.
"We believe that 'Act against Corruption Today' entails a shift from political rhetoric to practicality, pragmatism and realism through appreciable actions," said Mweetwa. "The citizens will not measure the performance of the country's leadership in fighting corruption in terms of promises made and words spoken but by delivery of promises through actions."
Transparency International Zambia vice-president Sampa Kalungu said the country should go beyond the domestication of the United Nations Convention against Corruption and prove that it is being effectively implemented in support of the country's anti-graft crusade.
Kalungu said the current government's political will to the fight against corruption seemed tentative despite the positive energy that had been channeled towards the fight, amidst a few visible hiccups.
ACC chairperson judge Timothy Kabalata said the International Anti-Corruption Day must not be reduced to a ceremonial event so as to lose meaning.
Meanwhile, Kabimba, who was representing President Michael Sata at the occasion, said there was no need to sit back and allow a few individuals to participate in the anti-corruption crusade.
He said the government's intentions to fulfil its campaign promises on the fight against corruption was real and not an afterthought, vowing that corruption would be gotten rid of as a result of these efforts.
"I therefore wish to assure the nation at large that my government will not interfere in the operations of the Anti Corruption Commission but will instead create an environment for them to execute their mandate independently until corruption is significantly reduced," Kabimba said.
He, however, was displeased that some of the speakers were seen scribbling their speeches shortly before delivering them, warning that no speech should be delivered at such an event in future without Cabinet Office's approval.
And during commemorations in Livingstone, Southern Province permanent secretary Dr Chileshe Mulenga said the government would not interfere in the operations of the Anti Corruption Commission.
In a speech read on his behalf by provincial deputy permanent secretary Alfred Chiingi, Dr Mulenga said the government would create a conducive environment for the Commission to execute its mandate independently.
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