Paul Siame, the former State House economic advisor and executive director of operations at the Industrial Development Corporation, has shocked the nation. His move to drag the government enterprise to court has left many people speechless; not only because of the scandals he has brought to the fore, but also because of his unexpected bravery.
Siame has revealed that several irregularities surrounded investment decisions that the IDC made during his time. He adds that when he raised these irregularities with the institution’s highest authorities, he was punished with a termination of contract.
In his own words, Siame says: “Following my inquiry into the [IDC’s] proposed investment into Zampalm Limited and the amendment of the Articles of Association, I was informed that a decision had been made that I, together with the executive director – corporate affairs, should stay away from our offices as well as stop conducting our duties… As a whistle blower, I should have been commended and protected and not victimised in the way I was.”
Reading Siame’s affidavit filed in the Lusaka High Court feels like watching a thriller movie titled “State Capture”. A film where a President is evacuated for medical treatment abroad and the man who is left in charge changes governance policy without even involving other Cabinet ministers. Siame’s submissions are compiled in the document, which is circulating all over social media and can also be downloaded on our website.
We would have loved to add what else we have been told by other sources regarding the scandals at IDC, which Siame has brought to the attention of the judiciary. But considering that these matters are now in court, we will resist the temptation of repeating what others may regard as prejudice. At least, we are glad that a senior government official has come out to give first hand information about what truly transpired.
We know that those at the IDC and some PF agents will deliberately cook up innuendos in order to discredit Siame as a disgruntled and bitter man who should not be believed. But the truth of the matter is that he means well for this country, hence the bold step to seek justice.
Those who have worked with Siame and know his personality are testifying that he is not a confrontational person. They describe him as a cool, down to earth and humble public servant; that he lives a quiet life and doesn’t like media attention.
But they also attest to the fact that Siame is an extremely thorough ‘guy’. He does things by the book. They say when dealing with him, you have to go with clean hands and clear intentions because when he notices shortcuts and illegalities, he does not hesitate to speak his mind. We are told that Siame is not your everyday guy whom you can drag into corrupt deals and expect him to blindly agree to commit a crime.
Others describe people like Siame as cowards, because they are afraid of making quick money. This is why the move he has taken has left a lot of people shocked. They were expecting his usual silence on this matter, but he has chosen to take a different turn.
We understand why Siame has ‘removed the gloves’. We have learnt that, as a matter of fact, he is one of the brains behind the establishment of the Industrial Development Corporation, it’s his baby and he wishes to see it succeed for the benefit of millions of unemployed Zambian youths.
Considering that the establishment of the IDC was Michael Sata’s last major policy statement, contained in his 2013 New Year’s speech, we can imagine that Siame considers this as the late president’s Jubilee present to Zambia for the years to come. He secured, and now wants to protect Sata’s legacy. This is the passion that has forced Siame to come out of his cocoon.
To us as a media organisation, this doesn’t even look like a fight for his benefits, or a job. This appears rather like a fight to ensure that the right people are running the multimillion dollar Corporation, in accordance with the laid down operational guidelines.
There are many civil servants out there whose contracts have been illegally terminated by the PF government. Some were chased because they were questioning illegalities by their superiors and others because they were regarded as whistleblowers like Siame. These poor civil servants have been thrown on the streets and they have done nothing about the injustice inflicted on them.
Some of the victimised public servants actually know way too much more than what Siame has revealed at the IDC, but they are afraid to go to court and seek justice. They fear that the courts, which are under an oppressive PF regime, cannot dispense justice without influence from the Executive arm of government.
This is why we are imploring Zambians to rally behind the bravery of Paul Siame. He has led by example and needs the support of all well meaning Zambians. Those who have experienced similar victimisation must follow suit and take legal action. Time to sue those who are abusing State power is now; time to sue PF-controlled government enterprises is now when the public is counting the scandals by this regime. They should not wait until there is a change of government before they can seek justice.
We strongly believe that despite the threats that they are faced with, some judges have remained resolute to serve and save their country. There are still some judges in our Judiciary who cannot be bought or intimidated. We pray that such judges will be given a privilege to hear cases such as the one above and others still to come.
But even if it turned out that all judges were afraid of being hounded out if they ruled in favour of justice, it should comfort the victims to know that the real fearless judges of Zambia are the citizens. Every scandal counts because the PF is on trial, and the people will pass their ruling in August 2021. PF leaders know that time is running out and they are having sleepless nights – not knowing either to start campaigning or to enjoy while it lasts.