PRESIDENT Edgar Chagwa Lungu is a friend and an accomplice of all criminal and corrupt elements in this country, Brebner Changala has charged.
Changala, a civil rights activist, accused President Lungu of being “a suspect” who was not in office to defend and protect the Constitution and interests of Zambians.
He was reacting to the President’s remarks on a question of relieving infrastructure and housing development minister Ronald Chitotela following his arrest by the Anti-Corruption Commission.
Last week on Tuesday, the ACC arrested Chitotela but released him on bond.
Chitotela, who is Pambashe PF member of parliament also, 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 last week on Thursday, 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?” President Lungu asked, further claiming that his government was fighting corruption and that the minister was innocent until proven guilty in court.
“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!”
But Changala called The Mast on Saturday and said the stance that President Lungu had taken is the most unfortunate one.
“It also goes to show that corruption is actually his mandate – he has become an embodiment and hallmark of corruption. He has suspended the people (from government) that he doesn’t like on mere suspicion. He suspended Emerine Kabanshi over social cash transfer, he fired Honourable [Lucky] Mulusa over the wheel barrows (fire tenders) remark and there is a male nurse in Kalomo who was suspended pending investigations for ‘forcing’ somebody to speak Tonga,” Changala noted.
“The Anti-Corruption Commission Act says when a senior public officer is under investigation, he must be placed on suspension and be receiving a half salary. For the President to ignore all these and retain Chitotela in Cabinet, President Edgar Chagwa Lungu is equally a prime suspect. He is a suspect who is not in office to defend and protect the Constitution and interests of the people of Zambia.”
He noted that President Lungu’s remarks indirectly diluted the authority and mandate of the ACC.
“He has placed them under query that ‘I suspended Chishimba Kambwili [but] they have not managed to have him in jail. So, I’m not going to surrender Chitotela to them.’ So, he is putting the Anti-Corruption Commission under pressure that if they could not lock up his archenemy, Kambwili, they cannot lock up Chitotela,” he said.
“So, the President of the Republic of Zambia is not serving our interest. If he is not serving the interests of the people of Zambia, he is in breach of the Constitution. President Edgar Chagwa Lungu is now, by his own actions and verbatim, a suspect. It must be properly contexualised that President Edgar Chagwa Lungu is a friend and an accomplice of all criminal and corrupt elements in this country. He cannot get away with it!”
Changala appealed to Zambians to indicate to President Lungu that it was time to make him accountable.
“He has become untouchable and that he can do whatever he wants to do. I call upon the people of Zambia to stand up against this abuse of power,” Changala said.
And Changala pointed out that if President Lungu was so much “in league with Chitotela” he should hire him for personal business, outside taxpayers’ cost.
He insisted that President Lungu could accommodate Chitotela “elsewhere other than in the corridors of power.”
“I do not accept that a prime suspect, a criminal suspect for that matter, must sit in Cabinet. That is State-sponsored anarchy at the highest level! President Edgar Lungu must be forewarned that he will have to account for his arrogance,” Changala said.
“Whatever deals they have done with Chitotela are private – they are not of any interest to Zambia.”
Changala said it was high time that President Lungu realised that Zambia was not a company registered in his names.
“It is an entity that belongs to all Zambians and all those who live in it. This arrogance by President Edgar Lungu of thinking he has bought this country is a tragedy of insolence. He must ask himself; is he the first and last President of Zambia? The answer is no! There have been other presidents before him and he will regret…” said Changala.
“If he thinks by the time he is called to account he will be dead, his legacy will be called to account and he will pay heavily.”