WE have received overwhelming commendation over our efforts in exposing irregularities in the US$17 million medical supply contract awarded to Honeybee Pharmacy, which has eventually resulted in the dismissal of the Minister of Health Dr Chitalu Chilufya. We are eternally grateful for the messages of encouragement we have received from organisations too many to mention.
We must admit that when we started publishing details of this scandal in June 2020, we felt frustrated. We knew that we were exposing one of the worst corruption cases that this country has ever seen. When we looked at the number of laws that were overlooked in order for the Ministry of Health to grant Honeybee this contract, we were completely shocked and alarmed. But the public didn’t seem to be moved, nobody seemed to care much about our exposé.
So it gives us great joy to receive these messages of encouragement and support from friends and critics. The moral support we have received will definitely drive us to work harder in our demand for public accountability from our elected leaders and their government appointees. When we started News Diggers, this is exactly what we envisioned, this is the space we sought to occupy in the journalism sector of the media industry.
But we will be wrong if we go on and on basking in the spotlight and claiming that this was the work of our individual brilliance. If we say that, we will be showing ingratitude and taking away credit from the real heroes behind this work. No investigative journalist can be a hero without sources, and to us, the real heroes are those patriotic citizens; people who risk their lives working with us and providing us with proof of corruption and wrongdoing inside and outside government.
There are very few people left in this country and in government who refuse to take part in the destruction of the country. Every household in Zambia today, save for plunderers, is looking for money to survive the harsh economic conditions. Those in government who see crimes being committed right in front of their faces choose to negotiate a seat on the corruption table instead of reporting the wrongdoing. But there are few, very few who can’t stand the smell of corruption, who stand for what is right and work with us to expose such criminality.
Those are the real heroes and anti-corruption champions. Without them, we are nothing! There are many Zambians who believe in the media as an effective tool for fighting corruption, but it is us the media practitioners who usually let them down by failing to stand firm and meeting their expectations. At News Diggers, we are trying to make a difference. We give a lot of respect and attention to our sources because these are people who provide us with the information and demand nothing in return. Those are the real heroes who must be saluted, for they provide this great service to the country without the benefit of being publicly celebrated as we are today.
This is why we have been demanding for the real protection of whistleblowers by law. We are aware that in 2010, Zambia enacted the Public Interest Disclosure Act with the sole purpose of protecting whistleblowers. Unfortunately, this provision only refers to whistleblowers who make public interest disclosures to government investigative wings, and not to the media. But the truth is that our law enforcement agencies are compromised and therefore, whistleblowers are uncomfortable to report criminal activities in their employment to state controlled agencies.
We want to encourage all whistleblowers out there to work with media houses that they believe are professional in exposing bad governance practices. There is power in persistence and a united persistent voice can change the course of our country. It’s your duty to rescue this country from the corrupt, and of course it is our duty to protect you.
At News Diggers, we have the safest whistleblower platform. If you visit www.diggers.news/whistle-blowers, you will see how other Zambians, some of whom we don’t know and will never get to know, have been using the platform to report criminal activities. This platform is safe, tried and tested and we work tirelessly to ensure that our sources remain unknown even to ourselves. We also encourage sources to reach us via end-to-end encrypted messaging applications such as WhatsApp, Telegram or Signal on the number +260977708285.
The fight against corruption is far from over; the Ministry of Health drug supply scandal has not even been resolved. Yes, the minister has been fired, but the people of Zambia are demanding to see justice done on the actual culprits of this crime. The fact that no one is under arrest for their participation in this transaction, the fact that there is no case being tried in any court regarding this matter, shows that there is more that you, our whistleblowers, can do.
Yes, the media is the fourth estate and journalists are the watchdog of society, but sources are an indispensable ingredient to the existence of this industry. Bravo our sources, you are the real heroes!