Lungu’s refusal to fire Chitotela shocking – Laura Miti
By Staff Reporter
ALLIANCE for Community Action executive director Laura Miti says the refusal by President Edgar Lungu to dismiss infrastructure minister Ronald Chitotela following his arrest for corruption is disturbing.
And Democratic Party president Harry Kalaba expressed optimism that more revelations regarding corruption would come out.
Miti told Q-news that the country was currently in a sense of panic over the extent of reported cases of corruption.
“President Lungu needs to understand that this is what is killing the country because the services that the poor people are accessing are of poor quality because the money that is meant for services is going into the pockets of individuals,” she said
Miti stated that in this case, President Lungu is putting his personal friendship and comfort ahead of the interest of the country by not dismissing Chitotela.
Miti however, said that there is actually no fight against corruption in the country, stressing that those entrusted with power are the ones facilitating corruption.
And Kalaba, who, citing swelling levels of corruption in the PF government, resigned as a foreign affairs minister on January 2, 2018, charged that President Edgar Lungu was “casual on substantive, serious issues [and] that’s why this country is dragging like this.”
On February 5, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) arrested Chitotela but released him on bond.
Chitotela was charged with two counts of concealing property suspected of being proceeds of crime, contrary to Section 71 (1) of the forfeiture of proceeds of crime Act No. 19 of 2010.
Responding to a question on Chitotela’s arrest before departure for Livingstone on February 7, President Lungu wondered what Zambians expected him to do after the minister’s arrest.
He indicated that a suspect in the eyes of law enforcement agencies could be arrested.
“And they (ACC) have chosen to arrest Honorable Chitotela. So, what has that got to do with me? He is a suspect and in their wisdom, they chose to arrest him. So, what should I do?” asked President Lungu, further claiming that his government was fighting corruption.
“So, they have to prove before the courts of law and I hope they give him a chance to prove himself if he is corrupt. But you see, what I don’t want to do is to politicise the fight against corruption. Remember how I lost Chishimba Kambwili!”
During a red hot breakfast show on Hot FM radio on Monday, Kalaba, said: “The President was extremely casual and he says ‘what do I have to do with this?’’
“That sends a very wrong impression on the legitimate fight against corruption. On moral grounds, first of all, even before we talk about President Lungu, comrade Chitotela should have said ‘they have slapped these on me….’ Even the ministerial Code of Conduct will tell you that once you are under this, you cannot fly the Zambian flag. The Zambian flag is being flown by people who should safeguard the interests of the Zambian people,” Kalaba said.
“I know this matter is in court and I’ll leave it at that so that I’m not prejudicing anything. But I can only say that President Lungu needs to stop being casual in front of very serious issues.”
Asked if he felt vindicated with Chitotela’s arrest, considering that he resigned his ministerial position alleging swelling corruption in the PF government, Kalaba answered that he was yet to be vindicated.
“I had said that I was resigning my ministerial position because of huge corruption that is going on in government. I did not point at any particular minister but I just said that ministers had become businessmen. It’s not only Honourable Chitotela; there are several others who are involved in being suppliers to Zesco, NAPSA and all these government parastatals as well as ministries,” explained Kalaba.
“I didn’t think that a minister should also be a supplier! I didn’t agree that ministers should be business men instead of being social workers. So, I’m yet to be vindicated. This is just a process of being vindicated because more will come out in the process. There is a lot that I know myself. You saw that people marched against me [saying] ‘let Kalaba tell us who is corrupt, Kalaba is lying. He is just power hungry. There is no corruption in this government.’ I want them to say that again; my ears are open