Power and Politics

Transparency International faults Hichilema for allegedly vilifying corruption whistle-blowers


Transparency International Zambia (TI-Z) has cautioned President Hakainde Hichilema against defending and protecting Cabinet Ministers and high-ranking government as well as party officials accused of corruption before being investigated by the law enforcement agencies.

TI-Z has also observed that people were becoming afraid to report high-ranking government and party officials for corruption because the whistle-blowers have often become victims at the hands of the law enforcement agencies.

Sampa Kalunga, the TI-Z president said while it was true that Hichilema was a lone voice in the fight against corruption, the head of State should equally stop protecting his ministers accused of corruption before they could be investigated.

Reacting to President Hichilema’s complaint that his Ministers, the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the trade unions were not talking against corruption, Sampa said a perception had been created that the Head of State was in fact fighting institutions and whistle-blowers who were working to expose corruption in the new dawn administration.

Kalunga said Zambians had seen and witnessed instances in which Cabinet Ministers were accused of corruption but before they could be investigated, the suspects were cleared and protected even before they could be investigated.

He said it was the expectation of TI-Z that Hichilema should never vilify and condemn whistleblowers but should instead protect them if the crusade against corruption was to succeed under the UPND government.

Read more: President Hakainde Hichilema has charged lawyers in Zambia not to facilitate corruption by failing to advise their clients correctly.

“It is true that President Hichilema is a lone voice in the fight against corruption. But as TI-Z, we have always spoken against corruption. We have never kept quiet and speaking generally, President Hichilema is indeed alone in the fight against corruption. But we want to caution President Hichilema that as we embrace his invitation to the public and Ministers to speak against corruption, he should provide guidance to his Ministers, cadres and other political appointees so that when people complain they should not be seen to be enemies of the party or the State,” he said in an interview.

Kalunga alleged that people who had courage to talk about corruption in the UPND were instead being followed and in some instances arrested by the law enforcement agencies.

He said the intimidation of whistle-blowers was frustrating the fight against corruption and that until and unless President Hichilema provided guidance on the matter, he would forever be a lonely voice against graft.

“It is helpful for President Hichilema to invite people to speak against corruption but when we see him protecting Ministers suspected to be involved in corruption before they are investigated, it is sending a wrong signal.

“It is important that those in authority should take punitive action against those suspected to be involved in corruption. We agree that Ministers, the CSOs, institutions of governance should fully participate in the fight against corruption,” Kalunga said.

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