Opinion

Why Doesn’t Transparency International Care About Zambia?

It is well known to many of my friends among the opposition in Zambia that international NGOs in the country have been politically compromised by the Patriotic Front.  It is quite likely that the boards of these organizations are thoroughly unaware of how their good names are being tarnished in Zambia, or perhaps it is the case that they simply don’t care.

Transparency International Zambia is a prime example of this syndrome, having been completely “captured” by the state.  As just one example of how TIZ has abrogated its duties, just look at how the NGO has endorsed the premature suspension of judges to help friends of the president steal, and has conspicuously kept a blind eye, albeit deliberate, on the election corruption corruption displayed by Vice-President Guy Scott in Livingstone over the weekend.

This is a stark contrast of the organizations’ vigilance when the former ruling government MMD’s leader Rupiah Banda made donation of sugar and cornmeal in Katete’s Vulamukoko.

Scott made a K13 million donation to a PF official during a campaign rally at the weekend where he also promised to send relief food after the July 5 by-election.

Not even The Post, who is roundly alongside TIZ, condemned President Banda for donating sugar and mealie meal in Katete, has bothered to see anything wrong with Scott giving K13 million in an area getting ready for a by-election.

In it’s editorial of December 4, 2009, The Post wrote:  “From the very beginning, Rupiah’s politics were premised on corruption. At the beginning of last year’s presidential election campaigns, Rupiah was involved in electoral corruption in total violation of the Electoral Code of Conduct.  Rupiah was personally dishing out sugar and mealie-meal to voters in Katete’s Vulamukoko area. An observation was even made by the Attorney General that such practices were not good and must be avoided.  Rupiah has not changed and he still engages in electoral bribes of one form or another. Rupiah’s campaigns in the by-elections that we have held since he became President are all characterised by the MMD distributing mealie-meal and other commodities, including money, to win votes. This is corruption.”

Seriously, Mr. M’membe?  This is what passes for reporting?

And when former tourism minister Catherine Namugala attempted to defend Banda over the donation, TIZ director Goodwell Lungu, through The Post – whose editor Fred M’membe is a close ally of President Michael Sata – accused her of lying.

Lungu was quoted in The Post edition of September 19, 2008 as saying; “Even when Namugala was refuting the media statement, we knew that she was telling lies because information had already reached us. People like Namugala have the capacity to mislead Acting President Banda to continue committing crime,” Lungu said. “The giving of sugar and mealie-meal to those villagers was confirmed by himself the Acting President, Mr. Banda. This is why he has chosen to keep quiet on the matter.

Today, Lungu and his compromised Transparency International Zambia chapter see nothing wrong with Vice President Guy Scott donating K13 million at a public meeting barely a month before an election.

The organization, whose president Reuben Lifuka, has been co-opted on the constitutional technical committee as pay back for fighting the MMD out of office have been quiet on several violations and corrupt activities of the PF government.

The donor funded TIZ is causing concern among citizens as to its role in society when it has gone to bed with a government it is supposed to offer checks and balances.

There has been numerous corruption allegations arising from the PF rule which TIZ has not actively considered questioning.

The donation of 5 million litres of fuel to Malawi, the ministerial reshuffles at the Ministry of Defence after corruption allegations of minister Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba by his deputy Col Panji Kaunda have all fallen on deaf ears.

Most surprising is that TIZ has gone to the extent of supporting an illegally instituted tribunal by President Sata to probe three judges for misconduct.

There is no way TIZ can continue keeping quiet on important matters of national interest that in the past they have viciously fought if it were not for being bedfellows with the PF.

The Vulamukoko incident involving the MMD and the Livingstone cash donation are not different except that the latter is a clear violation of electoral rule as dishing out money is equivalent to vote buying.

TIZ owes the Zambian public an explanation as to what transparency role they are playing if they are now bedfellows with the PF government who are engaging in broad daylight corruption with impunity.

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