JOSEPHS Akafumba (r) says the interrogation of health minister Chitalu Chilufya by the Anti-Corruption Commission in privacy and intervention of high ranking officials in his arrest clearly shows that thieves are protecting thieves.
Commenting ACC interrogation of Dr Chilufya on Tuesday over alleged embezzlement of over K44 million, Akafumba warned President Edgar Lungu that his hour of reckoning is on the horizon.
ACC on Tuesday summoned Dr Chilufya in connection with misappropriation of funds.
According to sources in President Lungu’s Cabinet, Dr Chilufya was secretly summoned and quizzed in connection with embezzlement of more than K44 million at the Ministry of Health.
“He was summoned to ACC yesterday (Tuesday), the 19th May. It is in connection with misappropriation of way over K44 million at the Ministry of Health. If you noticed the COVID-19 update on Wednesday was not done by him,” the source said.
The source, however said Dr Chilufya, who was supposed to be arrested immediately after the interrogations, survived due to “heavy interference from some influential people within government and the PF”.
The source said the lady who was interrogating Dr Chilufya was under substantial intimidation that she failed to arrest him even after he was warned and cautioned.
The source said the interference was exerted by one of President Edgar Lungu’s aides and a named provincial minister.
With the forgoing, Akafumba, a renowned lawyer and politician, challenged President Lungu not to break the law by protecting thieves.
“What surprises us is that we have a President who is a lawyer, who swore to uphold the constitution, where all people are equal before the law in the forefront to break the very constitution he should be protecting. What we are seeing now under his leadership is that most ministers are called to these investigating agencies in privacy and that’s not the way it should be,” Akafumba lamented.
Akafumba said the investigating agencies should be given a free hand.
He said the first thing President Lungu should do when any minister is summoned by the investigating agencies is to drop them instead of allowing them to wear an immunity cap.
“President Sata set the trend where deputy ministers who were suspected to have committed crimes were freed of their ministerial positions to allow the investigating wings to have a free hand. Take for example, Chilufya went to the ACC as a full minister, surely even the person who was interviewing him had restraint because he was interviewing a minister…this is a person who goes with a flag on his car, it’s not right. Even morally, Chilufya on his own must step down,” Akafumba said.
“We know that PF in its current state is a rotten party and a party that is on its way out and on their way out, they are bound to commit a lot of mistakes but this trend where a minister is interviewed for suspected embezzlement of public funds in privacy cannot be condoned,” Akafumba said.
Akafumba, who is also National Democratic Congress vice-president, lamented that the worst part was that a private secretary from State House, somebody from the attorney general’s office and a named provincial minister intervened in the matter as Chilufya was about to be arrested.
“Our sources have told us that ACC was ready to arrest the minister but instead were told that don’t arrest this man because PF is saying don’t touch our thief, but that should not be the case,” he said.
Akafumba said President Lungu in his last days should at least set things right.
He said a lawyer President who knew that suspects must be interviewed by the police with a free hand should be the first to fire erring officials.
“If it’s Chishimba Kambwili who is called…he is not even called, Chishimba Kambwili will be picked by the police. When a call out is sent to Chishimba Kambwili, it’s armed policemen in six vehicles, armed with all sorts of weapons just to take a call out. To get Hakainde Hichilema, it’s like they are going for war; to get Nevers Mumba it’s a problem, they will get the entire police just to arrest an opposition leader, the entire Kamfinsa will move in their buses just to get one person but look at their own Chitalu Chilufya, he is protected! He goes to ACC wearing an immunity hat, it’s saddening that such is happening,” he said.
Akafumba warned that the PF only had about 14 months to play around.
He said all those that had committed crimes, their time to dance pelete was near and they must prepare.
“Put on your dancing shoes and know that umulandu taubola. Their time of reckoning will come but what we are saddened with is that President Lungu is not an ordinary man, he is a lawyer, he swore to uphold the constitution but why is he protective of his ministers? We have thieves protecting thieves…even if we don’t know much of what’s going on in the corridors of power but as people on the terrain, we are bound to ask of what is going on. Why are thieves being protected?” Akafumba asked.
“We need to get the details; President Lungu must tell us the truth, what happened? What investigations is the ACC carrying against Chilufya and is it true that the ACC were about to arrest Chilufya had he not through his private secretary intervened? We know for sure that one of his private secretaries intervened in this matter and told the ACC not to arrest Chilufya. It’s not right, what more…what’s going on behind closed curtains?”