It’s true Dr Chitalu Chilufya is innocent until proven guilty. This is the presumption of the law. And it is being interpreted correctly.
But to pave way for a fair trial, Dr Chilufya should temporarily vacate his government office. He cannot be part of the same government that is today prosecuting him. Let him return to this public office when he is acquitted. How can he still be allowed to be in charge of the same government ministry where he is alleged to have stolen or abused office to illegally enrich himself?
We are mindful that Edgar Lungu in March this year said that maligning people over suspected corruption without evidence would not work.
And Cornelius Mweetwa says Edgar has not been consistent on this score.
“In fact, as we speak now, President Lungu is guilty of practicing double standards in the fight against corruption. This is the same President who fired Chishimba Kambwili before he was arrested, this is the same President who fired Emerine Kabanshi before she was arrested or charged with any corruption allegation for social cash transfer abuse, and was quick to invite investigating wings to probe her; this is the same President who fired ZAF commander Chimese before he was arrested and charged with corruption. This is the same President who fired Ministry of Education PS Tukombe before he was charged or arrested for corruption. So it would appear that there are some people who qualify to be fired and others are a special breed,” says Mweetwa. “They are immune to President Lungu’s firing. President Lungu is blind to corruption. And like I have stated, it would appear he enjoys wining and dining with corrupt people. As the saying goes, ‘Birds of a feather flock together’, I am now beginning to wonder whether this particular saying should be applied to President Lungu also in light of his omission to fire Dr Chilufya the same way he refused to fire [Ronald Chitotela].”
Last month, the Anti-Corruption Commission arrested Dr Chilufya and charged him with four counts of possessing property suspected to be proceeds of crime.
None of the suspected proceeds of crime have been taken away from Dr Chilufya.
In defence of Dr Chilufya, State House insists that an allegation against him is not a conviction.
“According to Article 18(2) of the Zambian Constitution, every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he or she is proven or pleads guilty. And since the Zambia Constitution, as stated in Article 1 (1), overrides any other written law, or customary law, or customary practice, everyone must respect the Presumption of Innocence Law,” states Edgar’s spokesperson Isaac Chimpampe. “Despite being charged with criminal offences, in this case corruption allegations, Hon. Chilufya is currently innocent until proven otherwise by the courts of law. This assumption is predicated on the principle of Presumption of Innocence, which is enshrined in the Constitution of Zambia and is consistent with according an accused fair trial. Therefore, a mere allegation is not a conviction and it is not the duty of the accused to prove his innocence. The principle Presumption of Innocence until proven guilty by the courts of law is also enshrined in the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights.”
He stated that Dr Chilufya remained innocent in the eyes of President Lungu until the courts of law proved him otherwise.
“The President respects the independence of the Judiciary and other organs such as the Police, the Anti-Corruption Commission, and the Drug Enforcement Commission, among others, and will do nothing to interfere in the operations of these entities as long as he remains President,” states Chipampe. “His Excellency, Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia, will, therefore, presume the innocence of Hon. Chilufya and leave it to the prosecution and the courts to prove the minister, otherwise.”
But this is the same government that allows the occupation of Dr Fred M’membe’s house in Mwika Royal Village for more than a year without taking him to court and finding him guilty! What double standards are these? What hypocrisy is this? Just contrast how Dr Chilufya and Dr M’membe are being treated! Soon Dr Chilufya will be acquitted while Dr M’membe’s case is not being prosecuted but the occupation of his house continues.