In case some of our readers don’t follow football closely, Zambia has never qualified to the World Cup before. But this year, we have one man representing the country in Russia. His name is Janny Sikazwe.
Janny is not a football player, but the world football governing body (FIFA) could not resist his whistleblowing skills, and he has already made a huge impression at the FIFA 2018 tournament in Russia, having officiated in four games already.
Unknown to many people, including football fans, is that Janny is actually a civil servant working in the Patriotic Front government. He is a teacher by profession, but he was promoted to the position of Senior Education officer, moving him from Kapiri Mposhi to the Ministry of General Education Headquarters in Lusaka, in honour of his outstanding performance in whistleblowing.
This man has amused President Edgar Lungu so much that the Head of State could not hesitate to shower praises on the sportsman of the moment.
“We are proud of Janny Sikazwe as he continues to fly our Zambian flag high to the world. We saw him yesterday and he is doing a good job. Don’t pull him down; people should emulate his good work. We wish him success,” President Edgar Lungu told journalists at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport on Sunday before his departure for Turkey.
So, how has Janny made it to the top of World Football refereeing? Well, he has built a reputation of being a lenient whistleblower who prefers to allow the flow of the game to continue without interrupting it with so many offensive charges or flashing out of yellow or red cards.
At one point actually, Janny was embroiled in controversy when he took charge of the 2016 Club World Cup final match played between Real Madrid and Kashima Antlers. When Madrid’s Sergio Ramos brought down an opponent having already been booked, the Zambian whistleblower reached for a second yellow card in readiness for a red, but he then put his hand back in his pocket without sending off the Galacticos captain.
When asked, Janny said the decision was down to miscommunication as he misheard his assistant over his earpiece, thinking he had called for a card when he actually said “foul, no card”.
Janny knows the art of whistleblowing, that is why today, he remains the only whistleblower that our President is proud of. We understand President Lungu very well and we can see why there is a fight between government whistleblowers and the Executive. It boils down to lack of communication and consensus between the whistleblowers and the assistants who watch from outside the pitch.
There are several whistleblowers in this Patriotic Front government who have attempted to fly the Zambian flag high. But instead of being promoted, they have been fired. They have not mastered the art like Janny. Whistleblowing activism has proved to be a risky undertaking in this regime because referees like Auditor General Ron Mwambwa thought their eyes were good enough to enable them blow the whistle.
So what does our Head of State want the remaining government whistleblowers to learn from this Zambia hero in Russia? What does President Lungu want Mary Tshuma and the Financial Intelligence Center to emulate from this World Cup? The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system.
You hear that madam Tshuma? Our President is urging you to stop blowing the whistle as you see it fit. If you want to get promoted, consult the Video Assistant Referees called Anti Corruption Commission, Drug Enforcement Commission and the Police before you can blow any whistle. In an event that you blow the whistle and VAR disagrees with you, fold your tail and allow the looting to flow without interrupting it with red cards. That is all our President is asking for.
Just like Janny is allowed to make his own decision on awarding a corner kick, throw-in or handball outside the box, you can also decide to give an opinion on financial transaction involving other unknown people, but you cannot blow the whistle on corruption inside the inner circle.
If you think State House is involved in a deal with a sovereign guarantee issued to STAG Africa; or if you find out that Fire Tender money was shared among top government officials, you cannot just blow the whistle, consult the Video Assistant Referees a.k.a DEC.
You should thank Mr Janny Sikazwe for opening your eyes, madam Tshuma. But don’t forget that every game is 90 minutes; after that, other teams will have to enter the field of play and your reputation in the previous game will determine your fate for the next match. Choice is yours!