Drop Chitotela, demands NDC 

By Staff Reporter

Opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has called on President Edgar Lungu to drop Housing and Infrastructure Minister Ronald Chitotela following his arrest by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) yesterday.

And the Patriots for Economic Progress says they have noted with interest the arrest of Chitotela by ACC, who was subsequently charged with two counts of concealing property suspected to be proceeds of crime.

In a statement to newsdayzambia.com, NDC secretary general Mwenya Musenge said Chitotela should not be allowed to occupy public office because he was likely to interfere with vital documents and information at the Ministry of Infrastructure.

“As NDC, we urge ACC to expedite investigations linking Hon. Chitotela to corruption. As a party, we implore the ACC to further extend the corruption probe to other cabinet ministers who have dubiously acquired wealth in a short period of time,” said Musenge.

And the PeP president Sean Tembo said his party found it extremely strange that ACC had not charged the suspect with any crime he committed to have acquired instead of being accused of concealment.

Tembo said his understanding was that the charges under the Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime Act No. 19 of 2010, there are rider charges, meaning that a person must first be charged of a particular crime, before they can charge them with concealing proceeds of crime, or indeed applying to forfeit their property on the basis that they are proceeds of crime.

Tembo said the same applies to a charge of money laundering where a person could not be charged with money laundering as a stand-alone charge, unless they have also been charged with another crime, whose proceeds they’re now being accused of laundering.

“Suffice to mention that any rider charge which has no parent charge on which it is riding, cannot stand in a Court of Law and will definitely be dismissed. Given the foregoing, we are left with two possible scenarios; either the Anti-Corruption Commission has acted with gross negligence and incompetence in this matter by charging the accused with two counts, both of which are rider charges, with no parent charge, or the arrest of the Minister of Infrastructure and Housing, Mr. Ronald Chitotela is a carefully choreographed window dressing exercise by the Patriotic Front in general and President Lungu in particular, designed to give a false image to the public that President Lungu is serious in the fight against corruption to the extent that he even consents to the prosecution of serving ministers, when in fact not,” said Tembo

He said his party is inclined to go with the later scenario, given that they have complete confidence in the competence of the ACC, save for the usual political interference and this means that the PF possibly secretly conspired with their Minister and some officers of ACC, to have the Minister charged with two superficial criminal charges which would deliberately not stick in Court.

“Once the Minister is acquitted, President Lungu would have scored two political goals; firstly that he is serious with fighting corruption, and secondly that there are no corrupt Ministers in his cabinet after all, as evidenced by the pre-planned acquittal. Zambians must say a resounding no to this shallow type of politicking being displayed by the PF,” he said

He has since challenged the Anti-Corruption Commission to safeguard their integrity by resisting from being used as a political pawn by the PF party in general and President Lungu in particular.

“In this regard, the ACC should add the parent charges of corruption from which the two rider charges of concealing property suspected to be proceeds of crime, are emanating from. The ACC is hereby further reminded that not all Zambians are stupid,” he added