NATIONAL Democratic Congress leader Chishimba Kambwili has challenged President Edgar Lungu to crack down corruption in his government. Kambwili says there is no friendship among thieves and that now corruption issues are coming out. He said corruption had escalated within government such that it had brought division among government officials.
“I have always said that this government is full of nothing but corrupt people and thieves and people didn’t take me seriously. Now have you heard after the arrest of [infrastructure minister Ronald] Chitotela, how themselves are now telling us who is a thief and who is not, among themselves? If you have heard a recording by one of the PF cadres which has gone viral from 05:00 hours, among themselves they have started revealing the corrupt practices that their ministers have been involved in,” Kambwili said.
According to the voice recording, a Patriotic Front cadre was displeased that the Chitotela was singled out for corruption when there were many ministers in government involved in corruption.
“Good morning brothers and sisters, members of the Patriotic Front. I’m sure all of us have the passion and desire to see that this party continues to be united. But what is happening, more especially to honourable Kaoma Chitotela is not acceptable. We all know [that] the people in government today, if we are real cadres of PF, abali ama ministers lelo bonse twalibeshiba. Twalishiba efyo baleikala before tabalaba ba minister mu 2011 (these who are ministers today, we know how their previous lifestyle before they became ministers in 2011). People working at secretariat today, twalishiba efyo baleikala and we know the business they used to do. Today, let’s be honest, their lifestyle is for everyone to see. They swim in money and even boast that we have too much money. If we are to talk about corruption deals in our party, it is morally wrong to single out one person. It is not acceptable by all well-meaning members of PF. People that have been following honourable Chitotela’s case, see how the matter has been defended, you don’t need to be a lawyer or a rocket scientist to know where the case is going for the Anti-Corruption, it’s more weaker for them with it’s witnesses. It is because of them sensing that they will be embarrassed now[that] they have indicted him with weak charges,” according to the recording.
“This battle, we will not allow our brother to fight alone, we will fight it as a province [Luapula]. No one is talking about the fire tenders, ambulances, or many deals that we know. We are aware abantu bali ma neighbours besu, bambi balelomba nefya kulya kuli ifwe (people who were our neighbours and would even ask for food from us), today you are a minister and your life has drastically changed! We have helped them before and we can name them. We shall not accept any intimidation, let the due process of the law take its course. People are having dark corner meetings, skimming on how they will skin alive our brother [Chitotela]. We can expose you but we want to go united into 2021. Most of us who suffered for the party are on the streets while those who steal and swim in money are the ones fighting. PF, why are we like this? This is disappointing but let me tell you, you fight Chitotela you fight everyone; the battle has started.”
And Kambwili, a former senior PF member, urged President Lungu to combat corruption within his government.
“My brother and friend, President Edgar Lungu, you have a big challenge on your hands to sweep and clean the corruption in your government. Even your cadres know who are the thieving ministers. Now these same ministers and officials from State House have started fighting among themselves because they are being jealousy of each other, uyu ngaiba aumfwila umunankwe jealous nao uwibile (if this one steals, another feels jealousy). There is no friendship among thieves, so now it’s coming out,” kambwili said
Kambwili charged that the Head of State was failing to deal with corruption within government because he was somehow involved in corruption scams.
“This is what happens when you lose focus as a leader. When a leader is also involved in corruption, it becomes very difficult for him to clean corruption. How can you keep people in government that openly, even a chicken on the street can see that this one is corrupt? Because what is now happening is that even chickens are now telling them that bakabolala imwe (you thieves),” he said.
The former chief government spokesperson called for a lifestyle audit that would promote transparency among ministers.
“So the onus is on President Edgar Lungu to clean up this corruption. We need what George Mpombo called for, lifestyle audit, for all the ministers as soon as possible so that we know where they are getting money to build houses and to buy trucks,” Kambwili said.
“That’s why some of us have said that this corruption cannot be reported to the Anti-Corruption Commission while they are still in power. We are just documenting because if we report it now, they are [going] to give them cases like ‘concealing property’. What a useless charge! We want you to give them charges of ‘money laundering’, where you begin to question where has he gotten that money to buy that property to conceal it. Those are the substantive corruption charges. So this country, I don’t know whether it has gone to the dogs, or it is the dogs that have come to this country. I leave it to the people of Zambia,” Kambwili said.
Kambwili was also annoyed that accountants were immune to practice licensing when teachers and medical personnel had to use their hard earned money in order to acquire practicing licenses.
“By the way, Margaret Mwanakatwe two days ago gave a very good statement which I recommend you that all accountants who are not registered must register with a regulator and that all the costs will be borne by the Ministry of Finance. Now Mwanakatwe, teachers have been paying their registration fee from their meager salaries, doctors have been paying from their salaries, even nurses, why should you segregate and pay for accountants? In any case, accountants earn more money than teachers, nurses. I’m calling you to also refund all the teachers and nurses what they have paid and let the Ministry of Education and Health pay for them. This is what happens when you have a chipante pante government,” he said.
The NDC leader was speaking at the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court after principal resident magistrate David Simusamba adjourned the matter in which he is accused of forgery and uttering false documents to June 6th. The adjournment was owing to the absence of Kambwili’s lawyer. The state was ready to prosecute the matter. Magistrate Simusamba warned Kambwili’s lawyers that he would not condone unnecessary adjournments as the matter had delayed because they always seek adjournments.