ZAMBIA'S improvement on the corruption perception index (CPI) should serve as a stimulant for the PF Government to wage a more aggressive fight against corruption which has the potential to scuttle the country's development agenda.
The marginal improvement from 3.0 to 3.2 this year presents the Government with a checklist as it sets in motion various strategies to rid the country of this highly contagious cancer.
Firstly, institutions such as the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) should be strengthened all-round for them to have the capacity to handle various forms of cases without facing any encumbrances.
Secondly, the Government through respective agencies should identify the source of this vice and seek solutions that should address the root cause and the resultant effects on society.
Perhaps the most effective way is to institute preventive measures through a legal framework and aggressive awareness campaigns not only among members of the public, but in specific institutions and areas that are highly vulnerable to corruption.
Perpetrators of this vice target decision-makers such as politicians, controlling officers and personnel in procurement units in both public as well as private institutions. Institutions that are regularly targeted are the Judiciary, local authorities, public regulating and enforcing agencies, and many more public institutions that offer services to the public.
However, the fight should not be restricted to the most vulnerable institutions, but should be rolled out to all areas so that there is no room for this vice to permeate.
Since the catchword is preventive, the Government should fortify integrity committees that were introduced on a pilot basis at the Lusaka and Ndola City councils.
These committees mainly emphasised preventive measures which were more manageable than reactive efforts such as arrests and prosecutions that are time consuming and more costly.
The integrity committees were put in place at the Zambia Revenue Authority where it proved effective, Ministry of Lands and the Zambia Police Service are still struggling to make them operational.
This disposition should be introduced in all public institutions to shore up awareness and sensitisation programmes.
It is also important to involve credible non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the Church and learning institutions in corruption preventive programmes.
In designing awareness programmes, it should be emphasised that corruption is a serious crime that has far-reaching consequences not only on perpetrators, but on the national economy as well.
The economy and the political landscape can suffer distortions as a result of corruption, hence the urgent need to nip it in the bud.
Public officers or any other persons should resist the seemingly 'innocent' offers of any kind as 'appreciation' for a service. Payments should go to designated coffers and in turn a receipt should be issued. All transactions should be legitimate!