Fighting corruption will never be an easy undertaking.
It was not easy under Levy Mwanawasa and it won't be easy under Michael Sata. Corrupt people have money and with that money they can manipulate weak souls and get their support.
With the money they have stolen, corrupt people are able to engage the best public relations agencies to defend them, launder them. With money, corrupt elements can hire public relations experts to manipulate the media in their favour. They can pay public relations experts to place favourable stories on them in the international media.
Today we are witnessing how some corrupt elements are using money to get those who are pursuing them vilified in the international media. Money speaks and dirty money speaks loudest. Today we are seeing how money that has been stolen from the Zambian people is being used to hire very expensive lawyers and public relations experts home and abroad to try and portray an image that those being pursued for corruption are victims of persecution. Robert Amsterdam is all over making media statements about how his clients are being persecuted by a vindictive and intolerant Patriotic Front government. Amsterdam is placing stories about this in all the media he can get his hands on. He is posting all sorts of stories or nonsense on the Internet in an effort to try and clear or launder his clients. Amsterdam is supposed to be a lawyer but his statements and the scope of his work seem to go far beyond that of a lawyer. Amsterdam is much more of a public relations officer for his clients than a lawyer.
We also have local versions of Amsterdam. There are lawyers representing corrupt elements who are behaving in the same way as Amsterdam, making all sorts of political statements on behalf of their corrupt clients. Sometimes, one wonders whether they are lawyers or spin-doctors. This is how dangerously powerful corruption can be. The best lawyers, the best public relations experts fall over each other in pursuit of the money the corrupt possess and are willing to pay out. And the more corrupt one is, the more it seems one is willing to pay out for any little service or favour.
It is not because these public relations experts or lawyers love their clients so much and believe so much in their innocence. They don't even love them. And they know very well that their clients are criminals, but that doesn't bother them at all. What matters to them is the money their clients are willing to pay them. For them, money has no colour. What matters is the amount they are paid.
There are many other people, other than public relations experts and lawyers, who are willing to put themselves in the service of the corrupt just for money. At every time, we have had politicians who have hired themselves out to the corrupt. And much more so when it is believed that those corrupt elements not only have money, but they also command a lot of political influence. We have seen some politicians worship corrupt elements in the hope that their supporters, who at times appear to be more than they really are, will turn their support from their corrupt masters who are now out of the political race to them.
This complicates the fight against corruption. This makes the fight against corruption a difficult, lonely and risky undertaking. But it is not only corruption that is defended in this way. Drug barons also, sometimes, enjoy similar support. Pablo Escobar, a well known Colombian cocaine dealer, had many people on his payroll offering him all sorts of services. He was served by many top politicians, clergymen, judges, policemen, soldiers and other public workers and private professionals. He even became a legislator, what one would say a member of parliament. Why? It is simply because he had money. And for some weak souls, it didn't matter much how Escobar got his money. What mattered to them was simply the fact that some of that money could get into their pockets. For that reason, Escobar was made a hero and died a hero.
To some of our people, it doesn't matter much what a corrupt person is accused of. It doesn't matter what he has stolen from the public and what harm his corrupt conduct is inflicting on the wellbeing of society. It doesn't matter how many people have died as a result of not having adequate medical care because the money that was supposed to take care of this had been lost through corruption. It doesn't matter to some people how many people are dying in traffic accidents because of poor roads as a result of corruption. It also doesn't matter, to some people, how many children are not in school as a result of corruption. What matters is simply what they get from the corrupt elements.
People who defend wrong things, who defend criminal acts often do so in an aggressive way and without restraint. They can even kill. They have no qualms attempting to corrupt or manipulate the entire judicial process. They believe in having their men and women everywhere to serve them. They will hire the best lawyers, but they won't stop there. They will also try to hire judicial officers to ensure that their cases go nowhere or end up favourably.
The corrupt do not leave any segment of society untouched, uncorrupted by their corruption. They try to contaminate all the structures of society. In this way, society protects them and their corruption. In this way, they will always have people to defend them when there is an attempt to make them account for their corruption.
Corrupt elements will never accept to be prosecuted for corruption. When this happens, they try to discredit their legitimate prosecution for corruption as persecution. It takes a very strong society, a society of generally upright men and women, to fight corruption.
Corruption is best fought in a strong and decent society of people with principles and standards and common aims and values.
In a society with no principles, standards, common aims and values, fighting corruption, as Eastern Province minister Malozo Sichone has correctly observed, is a very unpopular undertaking. This is so because such a society defends crime, glorifies crime and rewards criminals.
It is understandable that in such a society, corrupt elements will be worshipped and honest men will be vilified and called all sorts of names. What can one expect in a society, in a nation, in a country where the president is a criminal and a thief?
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