Fire Chitotela, extend probe to other ministers – SP member 

By Staff Reporter

 

Opposition Socialist Party member has cautioned against being excited over the arrest of infrastructure and housing minister Ronald Chitotela as there has been ‘drama’ in the fight against corruption in the country.

 

And ActionAid Zambia has commended the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for showing commitment towards the fight against corruption by arresting Chitotela for concealing property suspected to be proceeds of crime.

 

In an interview with newsdayzambia.com Graster Mundi said the people of Zambia are eager to see how different the case proceeds and the level of seriousness attached to it.

 

Mundi said he has raised these concerns because it had become fashionable under the PF regime for the state to unleash security wings on people who politically seem not in good standing with State House.

 

“It is important also to remind Zambians that somewhere in 2013, his Excellency then late Michael Sata dropped Hon. Chitotela as deputy minister under similar corruption circumstances, only to be rewarded later with a full cabinet portfolio under the current government,” Mundi said. “This is what is raising serious questions on the genuineness of this arrest, could it simply be a smoke screen in the fight against corruption or it’s a purging process for those running out of favour from the appointing authority”.

 

He demanded for the firing of Chitotela with immediate effect.

 

“The poor cannot afford to be paying someone who’s been grossly accused of embezzling their resources, we also appeal to the ACC to genuinely extend the probe to all other ministries as it is a well-known fact that what is obtaining at the ministry of works and supply is simply a drop in the ocean,” Mundi said.

 

In a statement ACC Assistant public relation manager Dorothy Mwanza said Chitotela aged 47, a PF member of parliament for Pambashe was charged with two counts of concealing property suspected of being proceeds of crime contrary to Section 71 subsection (1) of the Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime Act Number 19 of 2010.

And in a press statement, ActionAid Zambia acting country manager Jeston Lunda stated that the latest move by the ACC showed that the institution was making efforts in the fight against corruption.

He stated that while the arrest of a top-ranking government official may send a strong signal in the fight against corruption, ActionAid Zambia was urging ACC to do more and to urgently act on all reported corruption cases.

“There have been a lot of revelations of financial irregularities and corruption in the recent past. A case in point is the findings in the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) Trends report of 2017, which made damning revelations of how suspected corruption represented 39 per cent of the total number of reports received in 2017. This is an extremely alarming rate! Additionally, the value of transactions involved over K6.3 billion of the total value of cases analysed,” Lunda stated.

“Unfortunately, we have not heard much from ACC on progress made in dealing with these cases highlighted by the FIC in its 2017 report. We believe that ACC, as an investigative body, must proactively take interest in corruption cases brought out by other institutions and investigate them to the letter. They mustn’t wait to be told what to do.”

Lunda stated that the role of the ACC was to investigate corruption and that that duty must be extended to all, regardless of one’s standing in society.

“And the ACC must do this without any fear at all because that is their mandate!” he stated.

Lunda stated that ActionAid Zambia had observed that through the FIC trends reports, some ways in which procurement corruption was taking place involved the collusion between politically exposed persons and vendors or suppliers.

He added that the parliamentary and ministerial code of conduct required a member to declare interest in relation to a government contract with a private firm, specifying the nature and extent of their interest.

“The findings in the FIC report show that there is a violation of the parliamentary and ministerial code of conduct in this regard,” Lunda stated.

And Lunda stated that ActionAid Zambia stood by its earlier appeal on the need for a lifestyle audit of all public officials to: “ascertain if the wealth accumulated matches their incomes.”

“While we acknowledge that having wealth acquired genuinely is not bad at all, acquiring wealth through theft of public resources hinders many Zambians a chance for a better life. It is such theft of public resources that compelled Dr Kenneth Kaunda’s government to establish the SITET, which kept public officials from businesses to avoid misuse of public funds,” stated Lunda.

“We therefore are of the belief that having similar structures charged with the responsibility of monitoring ministers and other public officials’ dealings will greatly minimise misuse of the already meagre resources of this country. Because of corruption, public schools are starved of needed learning materials, equipment and infrastructure for teachers [and] because of corruption, thousands of citizens, especially women and children, are dying because of lack of access to proper healthcare.”