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Zambia fights corruption

by Derrick Silimina


Corruption and embezzlement in Zambia have for long plagued the country. However, the new government of President Hakainde Hichilema assures that it strives to fight corruption and it has taken first measures.

In Zambia, political and economic governance declined between 2019 and 2021 according to research data. Additionally, the people’s dissatisfaction with the status quo increased as the currency lost roughly 50 % of its value against the US dollar, which resulted in increasing prices for goods and services.

Zambia’s business domain has continued to be hindered by corruption due to a weak institutional framework. This includes flaws in company registration, tax evasion, flaws in the procurement of goods and services and unfair tender processes. After taking power in 2021, Hakainde Hichilema, Zambia’s seventh head of state, launched a battle against corruption, in the hope that countering the vice would help redirect huge sums of public funds towards economic development.

“We will have zero tolerance to corruption. The fight against corruption will be done from a professional angle, a legal angle to recover the assets as much as possible so that we can apply those assets’ revenues to benefit owners (people of Zambia) in education, health and investment for women and youths,” said President Hichilema.

Through its law-enforcement agencies, the new government has conducted several operations to reprimand corrupt individuals and government officials. The Zambia police swung into action in Lusaka’s new Kasama suburb, where they discovered trunks of cash amounting to kwacha (around $ 3.7 million). In addition, they also unearthed a safe containing $ 57,900. Both sums of money were suspected to have been stolen or unlawfully obtained by Faith Musonda, a well-known former national radio journalist. The state also took possession of the house, where the sum of cash was discovered.

Zambia’s Anti-Corruption Commission is also investigating a total of 87 cases of suspected corruption, of which 55 are of public interest and involve politically exposed individuals from the former ruling party, the Patriotic Front (PF).

However, senior PF bigwigs claim that the new government has turned its war on corruption into a witch-hunt of its political opponents. “It’s us they want to fix and not the economy,” lamented former PF Secretary General Davies Mwila.

The government is not deterred by cries from its opponents, and the president in a recent address to the National Assembly reiterated his government’s commitment to further the fight against corruption.

“We have waged war against corruption and will fight it from the past, present and the future so that resources benefit all citizens. We will improve the benefit of being honest, rather than being dishonest and more funding will be allocated to the law enforcement agencies to deal with corruption,” Hichilema said.

He also touted the creation of a Fast-truck Stolen Assets Recovery System to fully deal with corruptly acquired assets. In this regard, Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane recently handed over forfeited funds by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to the treasury in Lusaka.

“The funds will benefit an additional 2,232 university students across the nation who were left out on government bursaries in December 2021 due to budget constraints,” said Musokotwane.

Derrick Silimina is a freelance journalist based in Lusaka.