Today, the Appeals Court is poised to deliberate on the case of a Principal Internal Auditor employed by the Ministry of Finance, pitting him against his own employer, the Ministry of Finance, along with the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC).
This legal showdown follows Lusaka High Court Judge, Honourable Mrs Elita Phiri Mukwisa's denial of leave to proceed with the judicial review proceedings.
The judge also refused to grant leave to proceed with judicial review on her opinion that the case hinges on a private law that could be resolved using other avenues.
On the contrary, the auditor's legal representatives argue that this is undeniably a matter of public law, specifically governed by the Whistleblowers Protection Act.
The legal move is aimed to secure an order against the DEC, preventing the auditor's eviction from the safe house he occupied, among other remedies.
In 2021, the auditor was reassigned to investigate financial irregularities within the Ministry of General Education. During the investigation, he uncovered extensive money laundering and corruption schemes involving public funds.
Legal documents filed in the Lusaka High Court reveal the auditor's action in initiating a judicial review to challenge the DEC's decision to evict him from the safe house he has occupied for over two years.
The lawsuit's scope expanded to include the ACC, alleging their failure to protect the whistleblower. Additionally, the Ministry of Finance was included for transferring him to Mongu and withholding his salary since January 2023, despite both institutions being aware of his placement in a safe house for safety reasons.
Transparency International Zambia's independent investigation in August 2022 uncovered embezzlement of over K1 billion from the state treasury, leading to the arrest of some senior government officials.
In an attempt to silence the whistleblower, a bribe offer of K8,000 was made, and K5,000 was deposited into the auditor's account by a Ministry of General Education official. The ACC has yet to arrest the individual who offered the bribe, despite the money being frozen for over two years.
The whistleblower's investigation into the Ministry of Finance revealed a significant money laundering operation, leading to the arrest of 20 individuals, including prominent figures.
The victimisation of the whistleblower intensified with unwarranted disciplinary actions by senior government officials at the Ministry of Finance. The auditor was abruptly transferred to Mongu, and his salary has been deliberately withheld since January, exacerbating his ordeal.
Despite warnings from the ACC against interference, senior government officials persisted in victimising the auditor.
All these events are occurring under President Hakainde Hichilema's administration, raising questions about his commitment to combating corruption and protecting whistleblowers, as promised during his election campaign.