BAROTSE CHANGE: Reflections on the leaven of Zambian Corruption Ecosystem! – Part 1

23 August 2017
Author  Lindunda Wamunyima, Barotseland Post

INTRODUCTION

The term corruption today is highly reminiscent with Africa’s governance system mostly because the plague stands out to be the most powerful obstacle to sustainable economic development of the continent; inclusive of Zambia, with Barotseland in turn coaxed to grim in and reap for herself the worst share, in consequence of this insidious vice.

From Barotzis’ perspective and experience in the Zambian era we notice that the presence of dysfunctional and onerous regulations and poorly formulated policies, mostly only helped create incentives for the privileged Zambian individuals and businesses to insinuate and short-circuit them through the paying of bribes, mostly in personal aggrandizement and degenerate ruin of Barotseland.

Consequently, Barotseland must formulate, and is formulating, stringent laws to combat the vice as it is a destroyer of human dignity and prosperity which should be abhorred at all costs in the new Barotseland.

DEFINING THE TERM CORRUPTION

Take a look at the following sampled definitions of corruption for you to have a picture of what it is that we are reviewing here;

WORLD BANK: Corruption is 'the abuse of public office for private gain'.

TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL: Corruption is 'the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.'

WIKIPEDIA: Corruption is “a form of dishonest or unethical conduct by a person entrusted with a position of authority, often to acquire personal benefit”.

SWEDISH INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION AGENCY (SIDA):  Corruption in development co-operations is 'when institutions, organizations, companies or individuals profit inappropriately from their position in the operations and thereby cause damage or loss. This includes giving and receiving bribes, extortion, favoritism and nepotism, embezzlement, fraud, conflict of interest, and illegal monetary contributions to political parties.' This latter definition is mouthful indeed!

In the subsequent paragraphs we take a particular focus on the common forms of corruption, as defined above, Barotzis encountered while living as Zambians. Thereafter, considerations on the dangers or consequences of corruption to any organized society like our country Barotseland are equally reviewed. The approach is to ensure you better understand why corruption is a destroyer of human dignity, prosperity AND SHOULD BE ABHORRED AT ALL COSTS IN NEW BAROTSELAND, for what it is!

TYPES OF CORRUPTION ENCOUNTERED WHILE LIVING AS ‘ZAMBIANS’.

A matter of absolute clarity here is that Barotseland’s stakes in all the corrupt dealings in the erroneous Zambian Golden Period have been direct and indirect on account of the ABROGATED AND REPUDIATED BAROTSELAND AGREEMENT OF 1964. All the rot of corruption took, but not limited to, the following forms, in Government, Public and Private sectors:

A. BRIBERY

This is the most common tool of corruption involving some ‘buying’ and is rife in bargains to do with Government contracts (mostly termed as tenderpreneurship –‘kickbacks’ systemic corruption), ministration of Government benefits, lowering of tax deals, licence issuance, time manipulation to speed up the government's granting of permits, legal outcomes determinations, and BRE (Barotse Royal Establishment) negotiations purported to thwart Barotseland’s quest for self-determination among others.

B. THEFT

Stealing of state assets by GRZ (Government of the Republic of Zambia) officials charged with their stewardship was another form of corruption witnessed.

Examples here include privatizations, financial embezzlement, ‘ghost’ workers drawings, the forfeiture by colonial masters of Barotseland’s autonomy and the subsequent looting of Barotseland’s National Treasury by Zambian government when founding its national economy to where it is today. All have been different shades of corruption and a lot of public resources have been stolen through theft in both Barotseland and Zambia!

C. POLITICAL AND BUREAUCRATIC CORRUPTION

This mostly involved political appointments (e.g. Barotzish nationals), flawed election laws, delimitation of Barotseland to Western Province, campaign finance regulations, conflict of interest rules for parliamentarians, intrinsically the way power has been exercised through law-making processes and the infiltration by criminal elements of state institutions like police, parastatals, ministries and others all as instruments of individual enrichment. One can see it all the way from UNIP (United National Independence Party) days up to current regime’s corruption indulgences. Barotseland should do everything possible to note this form of corruption as a serious bad example worth not emulating.

D. SYSTEMIC CORRUPTION

Unfortunately, the Zambian corruption has been a systemic type whereby bribery, on a large and small scale, has been pervasive or entrenched routine in dealings between the public sector and firms or individuals. Consequently, formal and informal rules in the Zambian era have been at odds with one another. That is, while bribery has been deemed to be illegal the majority instead have understood it to be a norm and routine in transactions with the government, firms or one another. Another kind of equilibrium prevailed as a systemic corruption "trap" in which the incentives have been strong for firms, individuals, and officials who comply with and not fight the system thus making it look normal to society, as Zambian way of life!. Additionally, there have been different degrees of coordination between those taking bribes, ranging from uncontrolled extortion by multiple officials to highly organized bribe collection and distribution systems. Systemic corruption occurred uniformly across the public sector, and in some cases confined to certain agencies—such as customs and tax authorities, Ministries, or particular levels of government involved in collection of revenue from unsuspecting public. All these in full broad view of the ‘exiled’ Barotseland citizens living as political hostages; since 1964! The Serotse adage aptly puts it that “Muswala swali wa nama ha tokwi mali mwa mazoho” - he who is part of skinning an animal definitely gets away with some blood stains. Undoubtedly, this is Barotseland’s loathsome and inevitable heritage from the political cohabitation with Northern Rhodesia.

E. CORRUPTION IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR

Bribery and fraud equally have been prevalent in the private sector, and recurrently with costly results. The danger here has been that unregulated financial systems permeated with fraud undermined savings and deterred foreign investment for Zambia. Additionally, such occurrences also equally exposed our vulnerability to financial crises, fiscal imbalances and macroeconomic instability. Furthermore, a strong corporate focus on Zambianization, profitability or unity as in the slogan “one Zambia, one nation” could not prevent individual employees soliciting bribes from suppliers and the like. All over the world public sector corruption is arguably a more menacing problem than any other in developing countries, and controlling it may be a prerequisite for controlling private sector corruption; even so in New Barotseland.

Who has not seen all these vices while in Zambia and who has not been affected by this corruption in one way or another? Some of our people are still grappling with some serious repercussions of the same.

See Part 02 here.

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The Barotseland Post, also known as The Barotsepost, is an online media platform, for now, that is dedicated to reporting stories and news around Barotseland and beyond, giving exclusive coverage and access to the people and the nation of Barotseland to fully express themselves in their aspirations for self- determination.