Zambian president lectures parliament on graft

AP News
Posted: Oct 14, 2011 12:14 PM
Zambian president lectures parliament on graft

Zambia's new president declared himself "allergic to corruption" and said Friday he will investigate alleged abuse of development funds by members of parliament.

President Michael Sata also told parliament during his first state of the nation address that he wanted to revive an anti-corruption provision requiring public servants to account for suspicious wealth. Sata's predecessor, Rupiah Banda, had said that the provision adopted in 1996 was undemocratic because it presumed guilt.

Banda held a parliamentary vote to overturn the provision last year. Sata will have to do the same to reinstate it.

Last month, Sata's election victory over Banda ended two decades of rule by Banda's Movement for Multiparty Democracy party.

Under the MMD, lawmakers were accused of abusing distribution of funds for small development projects. Sata said Friday that government auditors will scrutinize projects in each of Zambia's 150 constituencies.

"I am allergic to corruption," Sata said.

Earlier this week, Sata canceled a contract with a Chinese company to build a presidency building and a deal with a Turkish company for a new international airport, saying proper bidding procedures were not followed.

Sata said Friday his government will study all trade protocols so that substandard goods are kept out.

Sata has made China's growing influence in Zambia's economy a political issue, threatening to run "bogus" Chinese investors out of the country. He tapped into anti-Chinese sentiment running high in a country where many see the Chinese as exploitative and abusive, and as destroying local manufacturing by flooding markets with cheap goods.