Last week's congress of the Communist Party of China was very educative. There is much to learn from the way the Chinese political leadership is dealing with its problems and the challenges facing the Chinese people.
To begin with, we would like to refer to a saying of Lenin, that the attitude - that is to say, the seriousness of purpose - of the revolutionary party is measured, basically, by the attitude it takes towards its own errors, problems, challenges.
The outgoing Chinese political leadership expressed serious concern about the growing problem of corruption in the country. Hu Jintao made it very clear to the congress that if China does not seriously address the issue of corruption, their party and their country risk being destroyed.
And the new Chinese leader Xi Jinping told the congress that "to forge iron, you need a strong hammer". This was in reference to the fight against corruption. He further said that "even if an official does not achieve great things in his career, at least he should be able to say he has not put money up his sleeve".
The Chinese political leadership took a forthright approach to the problems facing the country and their party. They did not try to push anything under the carpet and pretend all was well.
Of course, their enemies are always alert to know what their problems, challenges or deficiencies are. And they will try to make political capital out of that. When there are deficiencies, problems and challenges that are not subjected to public scrutiny or criticism, enemies take advantage of them.
When those deficiencies, problems and challenges are openly discussed, they may be used by the enemy, but in a very different way. This is so because when deficiencies, problems and challenges are not openly discussed, they stand very little chance of being corrected or rectified.
And if they are talked about openly, they stand a better chance of being corrected or rectified. Probably this is why the Chinese political leadership took a forthright and serious attitude towards the deficiencies, problems and challenges of their party and country.
They were very open and serious in analysing the deficiencies, problems and challenges of their system; they had subjected the whole system to a deep analysis. They analysed everything that had been done, the good things that have been done and also the errors that have been made.
Truly, to forge iron, you need a strong hammer; to fight corruption is not a simple issue. This is not an unimportant matter because, simply, it has to do with the political power of that nation and of the changes that are taking place; it has to do with the methods of how the country is being transformed.
It is true that if China does not take the fight against corruption seriously, it will be destroyed.
Already, the effects of corruption in China are being felt everywhere they operate. The corruption that is inside China is also exported to other countries where the Chinese do business. They are not always the most honest people to deal with. And corruption in China had started to acquire a semi-institutionalised form.
There are lessons to be learnt from all this. Corruption was allowed to take root in China. Yes, in some respects it was not tolerated and some corrupt leaders have not only lost their jobs, they have also lost their lives.
But corruption is still there in China and spreading at a very fast rate. This is what happens when a problem is allowed to take root before it is addressed. It is said that one of the tests of leadership is to recognise a problem before it becomes an emergency and deal with it.
We are facing a similar problem on this front. But we are not taking a very forthright approach to this problem of corruption. There is still a lot of corruption in government which is not being addressed. We have senior government officials who are using their positions to enrich themselves with impunity.
We have people in government who have made it very clear that they are in government to make money. How? But they are still in government today! And this is under a regime whose key leadership cannot be fairly accused of enriching itself using public office. If this is so, what was the situation under the corrupt government of Rupiah Banda who himself was corrupt?
We are increasingly facing a critical shortage of honest people in this country. This shortage of honest people should lead to a high demand for honest people and to a very high premium to be paid for them. One can actually earn a far much better life in this country by being honest because there is a shortage of honest people.
The few honest people who are there have a high value and can make a killing on their honesty. There is also little competition for honest people because they are few.
In a country like ours where more and more people are becoming dishonest, crooked, corrupt, it is increasingly becoming difficult for dishonest people to make it because the competition is stiff. So there is a high market for honest people.
And if you try to be honest, you can be, and it will improve your character as handsome clothing improves your appearance. The habit of honesty comes to those who try to be honest. Dishonesty, crookedness, corruption is an ugly blot on a person's character, but foolish people do it all the time.
There is no honour in being dishonest, crooked or corrupt - you are simply headed for ruin and disgrace. If you are honest, truly honest, you won't be corrupted. If you are unassuming and have a clear understanding of the worth of people and of yourself, you won't be corrupted.
Corruption is dangerous and destructive. And if a strong and relatively prosperous country like China is scared of being destroyed by corruption, what more our relatively weak and poor country?
If the Communist Party of China, a political party that was formed in 1921, that is 91 years ago, is scared of being destroyed by corruption, what more our political parties that are just a few years old and are not that strong?
Corruption is destructive and needs to be fought without respite.
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