Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Inkblots from the road - of Acacia shadows in the night

 As the dark shadows of the Acacia trees fly by, I look deep beyond the trees. I know they are there. I can not see them. But I can smell that, they are there.

Wood fires flickering in the shadows of the trees, clouds of smoke hanging over the trees. 

It is them. The ones, we leave behind. The ones, that fall before us. The ones, that fail to walk with us. 

I wonder how, they feel. Living with us, yet apart from us. 

More than half a century of our independent Nation-States existence, beyond the dark shadows of the Acacia trees, they still dwell no different from Shaka Zulu times. The despair, the feelings of being forgotten, must be unbearable. 

For they see us. In the night, they do not have to search the shadows of the trees to see us. We live apart from them, in a world where stars dance in our ceilings.

Pity. And we call ourselves human. 

Just reflections of the dichotomy of our existence. Melancholia, bleeds the soul. For, I never know how to say sorry. Neither can I imagine, dwelling beyond the dark shadows of the Acacia trees.

Ora pro nobis.

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Mentations of a night travel to Siavonga - July 28, 2022

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

International Experiences and Best Practices in National Anti-Corruption Policies: A dialectic understanding of the effective ways into the fight against can "enemy that fights back"

 

Discussion Paper presented at the National Consultative Workshop on the Formulation of the R-NACP July 27, 2012 Lusaka


1.0  Introduction

Our blueprint for the fight against corruption has so far been a promulgation of a plethora of anti-corruption legislation; establishment of various public bodies whose mandate is prevention, investigation and prosecution of corruption; reforms in how government does business and provides services to the public[1]; and, reform the judiciary so that serious economic crime and complicated corruption cases are expediently dealt with. Notwithstanding that establishment of anti-corruption bodies, legislation review and reforms are critical, year in year out corruption measurement indices are evidencing the contrary.

Could it be that, we are always missing something? Or, that corruption is a virus that mutates immediately we develop a new vaccine? Or perhaps, our blueprint might be lacking factual basis or historical validity!

This discussion Paper argues that whereas we could be missing something, the efforts made so far are commendable. The evidenced shortcomings simply necessitate that there should be a comprehensive review of our long - established assumptions and practices - with such review necessitating more efforts towards a collective will to achieve collective behavioural change, because corruption is an “enemy that fights back”[2].

This Paper in addressing itself to the topic “International Experiences and Best Practices in National Anti-Corruption Policies (NACP): A dialectic understanding of the effective ways into the fight against can ‘enemy that fights back’”, seeks to provide a contradiction of ideas that serves as the determining factor in their interaction and navigating the way forward.

2.0  International Experiences

International experiences in anti-corruption are replete with insights of the flaws in the choice of terms or concepts used in anti corruption strategies or policies. This Paper highlights a few.

Holistic, broad-based approach, and coordinated approach

The quest for a holistic, broad-based approach and coordinated approach to anti-corruption has been a lullaby of past anti-corruption strategies. Experiences so far have evidenced that the approach has difficulties in setting priorities, sequencing and ownership. Turner and Hulm (1997) argue that “national ownership can be “kidnapped” by national elites, who may steer anti-corruption approaches towards areas that are not too damaging or sensitive for the powers in place; and that national initiatives may also just be the result of international pressure behind the scenes, while real ownership is lacking”[3]. Turner and Hulm (1997), however, observe that “the politics of anti-corruption policy making have been largely neglected, although an understanding of the political context and policy dynamics is crucial for quality policies”[4].

In addition, Hussmann (2007) observes that “institutional arrangements to coordinate and oversee implementation of the initiatives are often ill-conceived from the start, as anti-corruption agencies usually do not have the authority, leadership and political backing to compel powerful line ministries to comply with anti-corruption measures[5].

Further, Hussmann (2007) argues that “putting anti-corruption strategies into practice is challenging for the simple reason that they cut across numerous public agencies, interact with other public management reforms and, most importantly, encounter high levels of resistance; and that “in most developing countries policy implementation phases are the ones where political and economic actors most vividly play their cards in an attempt to capture, torpedo, distort or sidetrack reforms in line with their interests”.

Severe mismatch between political problems and technocratic solutions[5]

There is often a severe mismatch between political problems and technocratic solutions. Thence, Hussmann (2007) argues that, despite the recognition that corruption is to a large extent a political problem, anti-corruption strategies or policies unfortunately deal with the phenomenon largely as a technocratic and procedural issue[6].

Enhance transparency

In hindsight, it is now argued that transparency may actually simply strengthen already-influential interests well-placed to capitalise upon access and openness, and can even facilitate corruption[7]. This is, wherein, transparency is not enhanced in a manner that does not provide citizens the incentive or reason to “look in” and feel safe to do so; and, to have the political resources and opportunities to act on what they see[8].

This Paper also establishes that, although there is “openness” in anti-corruption strategy or policy formulation in developing countries it is often more a product of the State elite than non-State actors, and that most stakeholders are generally ill informed about policy development issues, thus leaving the elite to fashion mass options in policy development and implementation. Further, during implementation the open and transparent spaces (the “look in”) for information exchange or the monitoring of progress are often closed, because, governments have had the tendency to close their doors; or only open selectively to identified non-State actors[9].

Laws, laws and laws; and, anti-corruption agencies

Many countries have anti-corruption laws on the books (even if penalties need updating) and an anti-corruption agency of some sort ((with numerous Donor funded intervention – the question of sustainability). However, societal behaviours are such that only a few individuals in our societies have a compelling stake in their success. In addition, support from the Courts and prosecutors is often weak or absent, and enforcement is often ineffective.

Civil Society impact

That civil society has a central role to play in corruption control is inarguable. However, the view of civil society participation in anti-corruption is often narrow and merely serves to have minimal impact. The problem is. Many civil-society actors exist in formal organisations that advocate reform as a public good; and, in developing countries such organisations are donor-funded, operate mostly in and around national capitals, and are guided by donors’ agendas[10].

The thought now is that, the strength of civil society actually lies in informal social groupings and activities that have little to do with public purposes yet still build social capital in the form of networks, skills, and trust that can be mobilised in the fight against corruption. Johnston and Johnsøn (2014) argue that, “collective action cannot rely solely on formal purpose-oriented organisations, but must engage a wider range of social ties and incentives”.

3.0  Best Practices in National Anti-Corruption Policies

This Paper, first, acknowledges that the author is averse to the term, “best practices”. For best practices are contextual, and the concept can sometimes be conceived to mean “one shoe size fits all”.

Michael Johnston’s introduction in “Reforming Reform: Revising the Anticorruption Playbook” aptly puts it. Johnston argues.

“Best practices” are elusive and do not always transfer well from one setting to the next. However, “better practices” are possible if we understand how corruption arises as a political and social issue, and how well governed societies got that way. We often turn history upside down, overemphasizing reform from above while neglecting contention from below; and get history backward by mistaking outcomes of contention for the causes of better government. “Deep democratisation”–enabling citizens to demand justice and better government–tailored to contrasting situations and syndromes may yield better long-term result” [11].

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the “best practices” in national anti-corruption polices, literature shows, among others, are those that focus on:

(a)   Blending localised knowledge, intent and purpose as critical elements of anti-corruption.

(b)   Legislative and other measures necessary to establish as criminal offences active and passive bribery when committed intentionally, and when committed intentionally in the course of economic, financial or commercial activities, i.e. including the private sector.

(c)    Measures and systems to facilitate reporting by public officials of acts of corruption to appropriate authorities, when such acts come to their notice in the performance of their duties, and provide protection for doing so; and, with such measures being inclusive of members of the public - whistle-blower protection legislation.

(d)   Measures requiring public officials to make declarations to appropriate authorities regarding, inter alia, their outside activities, employment, investments, assets and substantial gifts or benefits from which a conflict of interest may result with respect to their functions as public officials.

(e)   Rules of conduct for all public officials in order to strengthen integrity and prevent opportunities for corruption among its members.

(f)    Need for to encourage honest employees to raise their concerns and report wrongdoing within the workplace without fear, a crucial corporate governance tool to promote safe, accountable and responsive work environments

(g)   Need for multi-disciplinary approach as evidenced by having one agency specialised in investigating and prosecuting such cases.

(h)   A streamlined fast tracked procedure from charge to finalisation.

(i)     Target society based intervention seeking to influence change in behaviours and norms.

4.0  Retrospect - The effective way to fight an “enemy that fights back

First, we must accept that the failures of policies is because policies are created by a multiplicity of actors with a plethora of, often conflicting and at times changing political and financial interests.

One of the most salient features of public policy making is that, it is not a highly rational process with static goals. Thence, it is observed that, policy making is often a “fuzzy betting attempt to influence the probability to future situations”[12]. For, the major threat to anti-corruption policies is that they restrict power, as they affect the distribution of or access to political power and reduce opportunities to accumulate (illicit) economic wealth.

Second, corruption not only adapts to particular circumstances, but the circumstances may also adapt to established corruption dynamics; and measures that exclusively target corruption do not always make a difference[13]. Hussmann (2007) buttresses this argument by observing that – “Corruption is often compared to a disease or a cancer and just as in the medical field a reasonable diagnosis is needed to decide how to cure the disease by addressing its causes, not simply the symptoms”.

Third, corrupt individuals do not necessarily set out to win against those opposed to them, but instead to perpetuate or to create a status quo to increase their privileges or financial gain; thus, corruption could be considered an infinite game[14].

Fourth, corruption always has evasive action. It always gets us looking in the wrong direction, and draws us into a delusion of anti-corruption activity. Because, corruption always finds its way by changing the rules, overstepping them or taking new forms as the world evolves.

Lastly, corruption is cannibalistic.

In retrospect, it is inarguable that corruption is an “enemy that fights back”. How then do we effectively fight this enemy?

To understand, the effective ways, we here cite two critical viewpoints. These are from Daniel Kaufmann[15] and Corinna Wong[16] .

Daniel Kaufmann writes.

Corruption is a symptom of a larger disease - the failure of institutions and governance, resulting in poor management of revenues and resources and an absence of delivery of public goods and services. We must think beyond anti-corruption rhetoric and traditional tactics. We need to be more strategic and rigorous, identifying and addressing corruption’s underlying causes and examining the weaknesses in key institutions and government policies and practices. We have to focus our efforts on the broader context of governance and accountability. Only then can we see the many other shapes and forms corruption can take and address this epidemic[17].

And, Corinna Wong writes.

The fight against corruption is always more than bringing culprits to justice and plugging loopholes conducive to the crime. It is also about changing people’s attitudes towards corruption and misconduct. Corruption perpetuates if the population tolerates it and sees it as a way of life. On the other hand, in a community with a strong probity culture, people are more likely to appreciate fair competition, reject bribery, and cooperate with law enforcement agencies when encountering corruption. Public support is therefore fundamental to the success of an anti-corruption campaign”.

In conclusion, perhaps, the effective way to fight an “enemy that fights back”, this Paper observes, in part, can be learned from Corinna Wong’s TAPE. That is, anti-corruption should -

(a)   Have a Target - oriented strategy - customise anti-corruption services for different target groups;

(b)   Have an All-round communication strategy - integrate face-to-face contacts with multimedia publicity to spread the probity messages to people from all walks of life through multiple platforms.

(c)    Have a Partnership strategy - partner with different stakeholders in the community to promote integrity; and have an,

(d)   Engagement strategy - engage members of the public to take ownership of the anti-corruption cause and garner their support for preventive education activities.



[1] Reform public procurement process, public financial management systems, regulate emoluments in the public sector, et cetera.

[2] Adapted from Phil Mason - Twenty years with anti-corruption: reflections on reflections (https://www.u4.no/twenty-years-with-anti-corruption)

[3] Turner, M. and Hulm, D. (1997), “Governance, administration and development”, McMillan Press, London, UK

[4] Ibid.

[5] Hussmann, K. (2007). Anti-corruption policy making in practice: What can be learned for implementing Article 5 of UNCAC? Synthesis report of six country case studies:Georgia, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Zambia. U4 report 2007:1 (1st part), U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute, Norway

[6] Ibid

[7] Johnson, M. (2014). Corruption, Contention, and Reform: The Power of Deep Democratization. Cambridge University Press.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Hussmann, K. (2007). Anti-corruption policy making in practice: What can be learned for implementing Article 5 of UNCAC? Synthesis report of six country case studies:Georgia, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Tanzania, and Zambia. U4 report 2007:1 (1st part), U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute, Norway

[10] Michael Johnston and Jesper Johnsøn (with Olivia T. Gamble), “Doing the Wrong Things for the Right Reasons? ‘Do No Harm’ as a Principle of Reform,” U4 Brief 13, December 2014, http://www.u4.no/publications/doing-the-wrong-things-for-the-right-reasons-do-no-harm -as-a-principle-of-reform/downloadasset/3696.

[11] 2018 by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences

[12] Shull, R. (2007). Rush to Policy: Using Analytic Techniques in Public Sector Decision Making. Routledge

[13] https://voices.transparency.org/why-are-anti-corruption-success-stories-still-the-exception-9a30e5f4cf39

[14] Ibid.

[15] President, Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI)

[16] Assistant Director, Assistant Director of Community Relations Department of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Hong Kong, China

[17] https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/rethinking-the-fight-against-corruption/

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Of colonialism and us today

To believe that when we use the term colonialism, is to romanticise that epoch in our history, is to misconstrue its impact on how we govern ourselves. Fact is.


In our obtaining governance, we have never really unshackled ourselves from the influence of colonialism on our governance systems. Be it political governance or natural resource governance. The colonial paradigm of citizen and subject* is now epitomised in the urban-rural dichotomy. In our context, the urban - are the colonisers; and, the rural - the colonised. Thence, it is imperative that we must often understand the context of use of the term colonialism. It is not just about the past. It is more about the present.

Thereof, I am often content when, in part, the current President reiterates the need to walk with those we always leave behind, those that fall before us. The ones we deem ourselves colonial masters over - the rural. Need I remind you. How we stiffen our noses, how English, when amidst them? Yet, when back in our moments of colonial glory, we salivate in anticipation of that fat cheque wrapped in caviare.

Kozo.

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* I learned and understood the citizen and subject paradigm in 1997, at Mahmood Mamdani public lecture at some prestigious university in South Africa. He was launching his book, "Citizen and Subject - Contemporary African and the Legacy of Late Colonialism". Well. He was a controversial chap. Last we heard was. They unceremoniously showed him the door!

Monday, February 7, 2022

Of the Gecko on my wall and UPND

It is, when, we watch a child enjoying sitting in poo-poo, smiling at us, that we start believing we do not need to intervene. This, UPND in government is undoubtedly now thinking we are not going to wipe its backside, because we are still celebrating our triumph over evil.

Here is my aged corn leaves wipe target, that should inform citizen demand accountability -
(1) No evident movement on the repeal/review of the Public Order Act, the colonial provision of unlawful assembly in the Penal Code Act, and the defamation of the president question; definitive legislative review intent on the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act of 2016 that insulated the President, Vice President, Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Member of Parliament, Minister and Provincial Minister from being sent to purgatory for Corrupt practices by, or with, public officers (Section 19), Abuse of authority of office (Section 21), and Possession of unexplained property (Section 22) offences in the Anti Corruption Act 2012.
The gecko on my wall, now hates me. She asks why her friend next door, still hangs her ill-gotten diamond laced underwear on the wall fence.
(2) Not walking the talk on ruling party political cadres. If Zacharia Phiri is still steeped in seeking "political clearance" to arrest the thugs, then the senior Zacharia Phiri's meritocratic appointment looks like a question mark.
(3) Officers in the presidency thinking they are little gods, as is the case in the leaked audio on DP nuances.
(4) Public office spokespersons peeing on our intelligence. As is the case in item (3). Whether the leaked audio is authentic or not, is otiose. Sorry. Learned this word from the Con Court. Nice word, ne! What is critical is that media freedoms, like our fundamental rights and freedoms are sacred!
(5) I am now always thirsty as my beloved grandmother periodically adjusts the calabash price for her world famous paraffin and battery acid laced seven days brew.
Kozo.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Disorder in Court

 May 6, 2021

Well, friends. You must have been wondering why today I was on disorder in Court. A thousand apologies. I was just prepping you for disorder in a Kuta in Shangombo. 

The Kuta was held under the third baobab tree as you walk East and West from the market. 

The defendant was my beloved grandmother, of the world famous paraffin and battery acid laced seven days. She was accused of sitting on the revered ancestral stool twice.

And I have irrefutable empirical evidence that she had not done any quality assurance, before appearing before the circle of elders. 

I hear she had even glued some porcupine thorns to her eyelids to aggravate her beauty. Do not argue. My beloved grandmother is a very pretty woman. I would have married her, if my wife was not prettier.

And here is the verbatim of the proceedings.

Elder

"What is the time allowed to sit on the ancestral stool?"

My beloved grandmother

"Five minutes."

Elder

"And how many times are you allowed to sit on the stool?

My beloved grandmother

"Twice."

Elder

"Did you say twice?"

My beloved grandmother

"Yes."

Elder

"So how many times did you sit on the stool?"

My beloved grandmother

"Once."

Elder

"But I have witnesses that saw you sit on the stool twice?

My beloved grandmother

"NO! They are liars! The first time I only put my toes on it for one minute. Was scared of putting my butt on it, as it had to be exorcised of the demons the last person's butt left.

Elder

"Case dismissed. The butt was not on the stool, the first time."


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

In boundaries of binary unthinking


We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force." - Ayn Rand

In House No 1159[1], I write.

In House No 1159 and in all the houses in the neighbourhood there was no tribe. Of course our parents, when socialising together, always made snide remarks of which group of people were the nyamazai the most, who was insolent and uncouth the most, who downed lion larger the most, or who sent children to have their willies cut the most. Didn’t bother us much as kids. After all, we all admired Shumpi irrespective of her tribe, we all marveled at the driving exploits of chabwela kumanda, we all wished we could also go to mukanda as it seemed a nice break from school (we really didn’t know at the time that, that is where willies were cut. If we did, I don’t think we would have wanted to go)!

This was in thinking of my childhood in Ndeke, Kitwe. The lessons of oneness learnt therein, are lessons I live by and find sacrosanct.

In “Of rogues, ethnicity and beauty”, a Facebook post I further write.

In another time, in Livingstone… Walked into the house, and there was this monk sitting at the dining table pigging himself, just like he always did back at college. And this was, in my father's house!

"You! What are you doing in my father's house?" He asks me. Anger and surprise creasing his face. Was I stupefied!

"I live here," I said calmly. Though a million questions were trying to jump the thought queue in my head.

"Huh!" Now the monk was clearly confused.

"Since my father is your father, then you are my brother. Cousin, I mean." Turns out the monk was visiting his uncle, my father, for the first time.

"I am sorry. I just cannot believe I called my own brother a tribalist. I am really sorry," he stuttered after reality came to roost.

"But why were you campaigning for Patrick Mpundu in the UNZASU elections?" He asked, when it seemed that his marbles were in equilibria.

"Because he made more sense than you," I had replied. [2]

Having been subjected to tribal rhetoric from political persons in Government and the Patriotic Front, yet again, there is no longer doubt in my mind that we are dealing with suffering souls that are imprisoned in the boundaries of binary unthinking.

They are trapped between exhibiting careful thought on how to continue being in government and, on how to make sense to the electorate.

Hence, in their convoluted ingenuity they scamper back to their hamlets. Puke all manner of lies about other ethnic groups, in the hope that someone will believe they think.  They even sing, “One land and one nation is our cry”!

Fact is. Their ‘cry’ is always a lie. For if it were not, they would respect the laws of the country that seek to protect citizens against hate speech. And deep down they know, a people now know who they really are. The unthinking.
Thus, it is evident, as it has been for a while now, that we need to liberate these suffering souls from the boundaries of binary unthinking. For if we do not, we will continue stoking the fires of unthought governance.
Ora pro nobis.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Fergus and the fear in my heart


“And if it is a fear you would dispel, the seat of that fear is in your heart and not in the hand of the feared.”
- Kahlil Gibran
The gecko on my wall has crawled back into the crevice in the ceiling. My beloved grandmother, the one of the world famous paraffin and battery acid laced seven days, has stopped tormenting me over her fear of the dark.
It is now somberly silent, but for the occasional whispers of wizards and witches on low flying exercises outside my window. We need a law to provide for radar control for these chaps. No different from the fact that we need a new supreme law to perpetuate our unthinking pursuits of political hegemony.
Dear Fergus Cochrane-Dyet.
In your farewell eulogy, you decided to question as to why we are not writing laws of empathy for ourselves. We are actually a country of laws, not men.  We have a law for literally everything one can think of. Some laws just give me a mental high.
Like those on Cattle Cleansing; Control of Dogs (I think this law should stipulate that it is not cool to put those little dogs in a pouch and carry them like a baby); District Messengers; European Officers Pensions; Mental Disorders (which is a law on how much we care); Standardisation of Soap (which I thought provides that all soap should be Ebu); Traditional Beer (bwalwa, mowa, lwalwa, bucwala, bukoko or chibuku, except paraffin and battery acid laced seven days,); and, Witchcraft (Huh! "Witchcraft" includes the throwing of bones, the use of charms, being a witch doctor is actually an offence under this law).
Well, I am sure some could have been repealed or need to be repealed. But we just love laws, so most of the archaic ones are still there in those big green books, the artistic murals of Law. Yes, those books that are evidence of who deforests more.
Apologies. Somehow the grey chaps upstairs got too excited that I am again creating inkblots of thought. This is a letter to that fellow from Little Britannia. Fergus Cochrane-Dyet. He is rather a good fellow.
Sir. You, among many things, ask why we are not empathetic to the likely impact of the unsustainable debt levels on those we leave behind, those that fall before us; why we are empathetic to those who we give the responsibility to give milk to the baby, but who we actually see proudly drinking the milk instead of the baby; and, you ask what empathy NDF Bill 10 deserves.
Please sir. I think you were talking of some country on Mars. Not the country of my birth. Ours is a country that is so Christian that, we have a ministry that equips us with telescopes so that we stately peep under some chap’s skirts.
If I may remind you. On Tuesday January 5, 2016, the Great Leader assented the supreme law amendment that we gave onto ourselves at a big ceremony at the Stadium. We howled in happiness, and danced like red ants had crept up our twine patched crimplene long johns.
Today we are being told it was actually red ants that made us dance. And that Bill 10, idolising those that are drinking the baby’s milk is the feast we need. They are saying it tastes like dingi*.
The laws of empathy you seek that we write for ourselves have to be understood in the context that dingi tastes better, when it is rotting. Frog marching for Bill 10, idolising those that are drinking the baby’s milk is like savouring dingi. No exhaustion from hunting the beast. Just dig in, with a skeletal beak and sit back with a toothpick savoring the morsels.
But there is fear in my heart. The fear in my heart is that, there are many of us that are now so famished that digging our skeletal beaks into the dingi is the only way we can show our love for the Great Leader.
See. We inked our thumbs at the ballot for him, dropped the ballot paper in the box and happily walked home as that is our understanding of democracy. Not the laws of empathy you are agitating us to write.
Shh! Please read this letter using a broken mirror. Rather confusing times. Really wonder as to who the red ants crept up on. Me. I am very safe downstairs. I think.
Wishing you all the best, in your next assignment.
Ora pro nobis.
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* Dried game meat