Zambians march against graft in government

2019-07-20 22:11
President Edgar Lungu. (AFP)

President Edgar Lungu. (AFP)

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Hundreds of people wearing yellow T-shirts rallied on Saturday in Zambia's capital Lusaka - to kick start a campaign against corruption in President Edgar Lungu's government.

The protesters - led by prominent anti-graft activists Laura Miti and musician Pilato (also known as Chama Fumba) - picketed outside the parliament, singing anti-government songs and waving yellow cards.

"This is just the beginning of our yellow card campaigns," Miti, who is leader of an non-profit organisation Alliance for Community Action, told the jubilant crowd.

"We will not accept the country to be destroyed while we watch.

"We can't have few people that are getting rich and the majority are poor. This country is rich but the problem is how it is governed," she said.

She claimed that some ministers owned more than 40 houses each while most Zambians live in squalor.

Demonstrators carried placards denouncing poor standards of education and plans to reintroduce deputy ministerial posts through a constitutional amendment.

"We are saying to (president) Lungu we are tired," said Miti.

Both Miti and Pilato were last year arrested for picketing outside parliament over the procurement of 42 fire engines at a cost of $1 million each, seen as emblematic of the corruption fostered by Lungu.

During the protest on Saturday, Pilato warned "if we refuse to defend Zambia today, there won't be Zambia tomorrow".

Lungu became president in 2015 after the death of president Michael Sata and was re-elected in 2016, but his administration has been dogged by accusations of graft.

In January 2018, foreign affairs minister Harry Kalaba resigned in protest, citing "swelling" corruption in government ranks "perpetrated by those who are expected to be the solution."

The former minister for social services, Emerine Kabanshi, is due in court next month for corruption charges over allegations that led Britain to suspend aid to Zambia last year.

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