Lungu sets a dangerous precedent by not firing Chitotela – HH 

By Staff Reporter

UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema says President Edgar Lungu has set a dangerous precedent by refusing to fire infrastructure development minister Ronald Chitotela.

President Lungu yesterday said he would not fire Chitotela who was this week arrested by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on grounds that he was innocent until proven guilty.

In a statement to today, Hichilema said his party on Thursday said that the offences slapped on Chitotela so far were a mere joke as they did not match what they believe was a grand corruption matrix which implicated a number of very high-level PF politicians and government officials.

Hichilema said going by President Lungu’s arguments, it was now highly irregular for any organization in the country to dismiss or indeed put on suspension or on forced leave any of their erring employees who are facing disciplinary action until their matter had been determined.

“This means all the more than 80 officers, including the Permanent Secretary, who are currently on suspension from the Ministry of Education on mere suspicion of financial embezzlement must immediately go back to work until their matter has been concluded. Former Minister of Community Development Emerine Kabanshi and her officers plus the Post Master General McPherson Chanda and his officers who were dismissed on mere allegations of misusing the Social Cash Transfer Funds must immediately resume work until their matter has been determined,” said Hichilema

He said his party was also aware that there are a number of accounts staff and officials at the same Ministry of Infrastructure who were currently on suspension on mere suspicion of financial embezzlement, and that they must equally be allowed to go back for work.

“There are several other public service and private sector employees that are on suspension or on forced leave facing disciplinary hearings or are in court facing various charges, who must equally go back to work until their matters have been determined. In fact, some of the affected officers in both government and private sector are on suspension, forced leave, facing disciplinary hearings when they have not even been arrested by law enforcement agencies,” he said.

Hakainde added that bank tellers, teal operators in shops and other companies on suspension or on forced leave on suspicion of financial embezzlement must equally go back to work as this was the kind of country we have degenerated into under this PF leadership.

“As a suspect going through court hearings, Chitotela will still be flying the pride of our Zambian flag, representing the country at both local and international stage, proudly meeting various dignitaries, and later drive the ministerial vehicles to court. In fact, going by Mr. Lungu’s arguments, had Chitotela been charged with a none bailable offence, he would have been coming from Chimbokaila prison on daily basis going for work,”

He mentioned that in normal circumstances, the mere act of being arrested by law enforcement agencies should have triggered a voluntary resignation by Chitotela on moral grounds.

“Like we have repeatedly said, when these people are plundering, they are equally hell bent in trying to divide us as a country so that we don’t unite together to liberate ourselves, yet they are not sharing their loot with anyone. It is time we united together as citizens as we are all suffering at the hands of these economic saboteurs,” added Hichilema.