President Hakainde Hichilema's rise to power in Zambia was accompanied by grand promises of combating corruption and revitalising the country's economy to attract investors. However, recent events have cast doubts on his commitment, especially concerning his vow to protect whistleblowers.
What we are witnessing is a disheartening reality unfolding before us – a leadership that appears to be serving personal interests and those of a select few, rather than the greater good of the nation. True leadership should prioritise the well-being and needs of the people it serves.
In the recent past, our attention has been drawn to the plight of a courageous whistleblower within the Ministry of Finance. This individual, driven by a sense of duty, fearlessly exposed a massive embezzlement scandal spanning across the Ministries of General Education and Finance, involving over a billion kwacha of taxpayers' money.
Tragically, the whistleblower has become a victim of the very system they sought to reform. Senior government officials within the Ministry of Finance initiated unwarranted disciplinary actions against him. Shockingly, the whistleblower was abruptly transferred to Mongu in the Western Province, a move devoid of any justifiable rationale. Since January of the current year, his salary has been intentionally withheld, and he has now been completely removed from the payroll, exacerbating his suffering. To compound matters, the final cruel act by those responsible for his ordeal is the eviction from a safe house he had sought refuge, along with his family’s safety. He has been given an ultimatum (Friday, 06th October) to vacate, a decision that is currently under legal challenge.
If President Hichilema and his government fail to recognise this as a grave problem undermining the fight against corruption, we are left wondering what will prompt them to take decisive action.
At MakanDay, we have chosen to shed light on this story because it aligns with the commitment, we made to expose the exploitation of the vulnerable by the powerful and to hold power elites accountable for the trust vested in them.
The aforementioned example is a stark illustration of how those in positions of power can become ensnared in the trappings and chains of leadership. As St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit Missionaries, astutely observed, people often pursue money, power, or honour, but once they attain these, they find themselves being controlled by these very pursuits.
It is high time for President Hichilema and his government to reflect on their commitment to combating corruption and protecting whistleblowers. A true test of leadership lies not only in the promises made but also in the actions taken to uphold the principles of transparency, accountability, and justice. Zambia deserves leaders who prioritise the welfare of the people and the integrity of the nation above all else.