Transparency International Zambia president Rueben Lifuka says government must quickly implement the Public Interest Disclosure Act which deals with protection of whistleblowers.
Responding to a press query from News Diggers! after the Road Development Agency fired Loyce Saili and two others on suspicious of leaking information to the media, Lifuka observed that whilst some civil servants were appalled by some abuse they could be witnessing, they could not come forward for fear of victimization.
“We call upon Government and specifically the Minister of Justice to provide guidance and ensure the full implementation of the Public Interest Disclosure Act which deals with protection of whistleblowers. It is our considered view that there are many well meaning public servants who are appalled by this impunity and abuse of public resources. But such public servants cannot come forward for fear of victimization. We also call on government to restore order and provide appropriate guidelines to all Boards of parastatal bodies and government agencies on their responsibilities and entitlements,” Lifuka stated.
He noted the increasing levels of impunity among some board chairpersons.
“Transparency International Zambia has noted with serious concern the increasing levels of impunity by some Board Chairpersons or Board members of parastatal bodies and public institutions, who are forcing Chief Executives of their respective companies to buy them luxury vehicles and offer them fringe benefits which are not necessarily available to non Executive board members. It has come to our attention that Chief Executives or senior managers that resist these demands have been disciplined or have had their employment contracts terminated. We want to insist that serving on a Board of Directors for a parastatal body or government agency, should not be looked as a source of employment for those who are appointed, but they should consider this as a call to national service,” he said.
“Government Ministers should stop this tendency of populating Boards with ill qualified persons whose only credentials is loyalty to a political party. Some of these appointees have no idea of their expected responsibilities and they consider their tenure on such boards as a ‘time to eat.’ We want to underscore that such caderisation of Boards of Directors erodes the central concept of proper management oversight and introduces all sorts of vices including corruption. A Board Chairperson who solicits and receives unwarranted benefits, becomes compromised and in most cases, fails to fairly discharge his or her responsibilities.”
Lifuka asked chief executive officers of parastatal organizations not to be vulnerable to manipulation.
“It is disheartening to note that such acts of impunity and disregard for good corporate governance, are also alleged to be perpetrated by some Ministers and Permanent Secretaries. This defies government’s own desire to promote fiscal discipline – for Board Chairpersons to be demanding for new vehicles to be bought for them – even when such expenditure is not budgeted for. We call on the Minister of Finance, Secretary to the Treasury and the Industrial Development Corporation, to put an end to this wastage of public resources. It is also time that Chief Executives were protected from this undue influence of politically aligned Board members who use their political connections to intimidate management and harass them into acts of abuse of office, including disregard for Public Finance and Public Procurement regulations. Similarly, we call on Chief Executives not allow themselves to be vulnerable to such manipulation and we urge them to remain professional and resist such selfish conduct. As a people, we should not allow such personal aggrandizement at the expense of many other deserving national programmes,” said Lifuka.