President Edgar Lungu yesterday revoked the appointment of the Financial Intelligence Centre board chairperson George Siame with “immediate effect”. This revocation of the appointment to this very sensitive and highly respected government institution came after some backlash publicly on social media by some Zambians and also in the background among those who were privy to the past conduct of the man who had been appointed to head the board of this institution. This is a very commendable move and such a rare show of courage to correct a mistake made.
Mr Siame, while he served as assistant commissioner Customs at the Zambia Revenue Authority, was prosecuted for assaulting the Human Resources Director, Ms, Roselyne Raelly. The Lusaka High Court, in August, 2011, even ordered Mr Siame to pay a fine of K1 million as compensation for assaulting Ms Raelly. The Lusaka Magistrates’ Court had also ordered Siame to pay a fine of K500, 000 to the court within a week or serve five months in default. As for the K1 million compensation to Ms Raelly ordered by the High Court, this was for medical expenses incurred by the complainant as a result of the injury she sustained.
This case happened over eight years ago but Zambians never forgot about what happened that time and they had to voice out their concerns when the announcement was made that the man who was found guilty of assault by the Court has been appointed to chair the board of an institution that demands very high levels of integrity.
Fortunately, the President has listened to those concerns and didn’t even waste time on this matter but decided to act immediately by making Mr Siame the shortest serving FIC board chair so far.
Integrity is everything in key institutions of governance. And this is something President Lungu has exhibited by taking this decision even after he made the appointment of Mr Siame as FIC board chair. This is certainly a great step towards efforts being made to preserve integrity in our public institutions, just as ActionAid Zambia country director Nalucha Nganga Ziba has state in a statement.
“ActionAid Zambia welcomes the decision by the President of the Republic of Zambia, H.E Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, in revoking the recent appointment of the Financial Intelligence Centre Board Chairperson Mr. George Chilengwe Siame. This is very commendable as it shows the President’s commitment to protect the integrity of the institution as well as upholding the gains registered in the fight against Gender Based Violence by revoking the appointment of a man who was reported to have assaulted a female Human Resource Manager whilst he served as a Senior Commissioner at Zambia Revenue Authority in 2009. The President’s decision is timely, amidst the rising number of reported GBV cases. It is ActionAid Zambia’s sincere hope that the President continues on the same path and that consideration will be given to capable women when appointing the next FIC Board Chairperson as we seek to put more women in decision- making positions,” stated Ms Ziba.
And like the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) has said, President Lungu’s swift response to concerns raised by the general public following the appointment of Mr Siame as FIC board chairman is very welcome. Such decisions have been made before by previous leaders of this country and among other democracies around the world where appointments are rescinded after the appointing authorities are availed with compelling information that defeats the purpose of their presence on any such board.