President Edgar Lungu has refused to fire Housing and Infrastructure Development Minister Ronald Chitotela in the wake of his arrest on corruption-related charges.
Chitotela was arrested by the Anti-corruption Commission on Tuesday and was slapped with two counts of concealing property suspected to be proceeds of crime. This is not the first time Chitotela is finding himself embroiled in a corruption scandal as he was fired by Michael Sata in 2013 for corrupt practices before his successor Lungu brought him back into the fold.
Responding to sustained calls for him to fire Chitotela, the Head of State says he will only do so if the courts find him guilty of corruption.
President Lungu says Chitotela is innocent and that the prosecutors should be given chance to prove whether the corruption allegations placed on him are indeed true.
The Head of State says no one should be allowed to interfere in the process and that he will give leeway to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to take Mr. Chitotela to court.
President Lungu was speaking to journalists at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport shortly before departure for Livingstone for a night stop in transit to Sesheke to drum up support for PF Candidate Dean Masule.
The President also called on political players and Zambians to desist from politicizing the fight against corruption.
President Lungu says he is saddened that the arrest of Chitotela by the ACC is being politicised by certain individuals, adding that he does not instruct the police to investigate anyone because it is their mandate to do so.
This is what President Lungu said word for word:
The suspect in the eyes of the Law enforcement agencies can be arrested and they have chosen to arrest Hon Chitotela…so what does that got to do with me… the suspect, and in their wisdom they choose to arrest him so what should i do.
And we are fighting corruption and if he’s corrupt, he is corrupt. So they have to prove in the courts of law and i hope they give him a chance to prove himself.
if he’s corrupt, he’s corrupt. But you see what i dont want to do is to politicise the fight against corruption.
Remember how i lost Chishimba Kambwili. They came to me and they said his corrupt and i said investigate him, they investigated him along the way they said he’s not cooperating, he’s insulting us, he’s very vulgar..am sorry to say that but he’s vulgar, he can be vulgar.
They were all crying in my office and i said “what do i do?” in my judgement i said “the best is to remove him..” i removed him, Chishimba.
Up to now we are waiting for the ACC, the DEC and all those who brought allegations against him to prove their allegations in the courts of law.
So you want me to lose Chitotela on that basis again? Am saying No! I will give them leeway to investigate and arrest and bring to court culprits. But i will not interfere i will even fund them to do their operations.
But those who are calling for the removal of Hon Chitotela now i say no give him space but don’t interfere with the process.
Bring your evidence and let him also have… he’s there in court and let justice be served and i am a lawyer and if you look at the bill of rights i think article 18 starts with presumption of innocence.
So as far as am concerned he is innocent even Chishimba Kambwili is innocent but look at where Chishimba Kambwili is…”no
Lungu is fighting Chishimba kambwili” I have never fought Chishimba Kambwili.
What i had was a report from the law enforcement agency that Chishimba had done 1,2,3 wrongs. i said “go investigate him” and many others i said “Go ahead” and they went ahead at the same time they said “we can’t get anything; no corporation from him.” and i said “what do i do?” in my wisdom i removed him from office.
Having removed him from office, the rest is history. He played to work with us…the next thing he was saying am corrupt.
I don’t care what has happened but what am saying is having lost Chishimba Kambwili through allegations of corruption by the same forces i don’t want to lose Chitotela in the same manner.
Am saying may Chishimba Kambwili find justice and may Chitotela find justice and may those who are alleged to be corrupt find justice.
That’s how the rule of law works. the precinct, one of the precinct of law is there is no one above the law. Right? When the police feel like investigating you they will investigate you. When they feel like coming to your home at night to search there will search.
And i can’t tell them go and search Tom Njovu’s home or that girls home it’s not in my mandate.
So let us not politicise the fight against corruption.
There is a perception that “by doing that there weakening Lungu.” they are not weakening me they’re just killing the systems we have set to fight corruption genuinely. So what comment do you want me to make?
May justice be done thats it’s.
“No am fighting Chitotela because he knows too much about me.” what have i done?
“No Chitotela has got money on my behalf.” i am not a business man. Am just a politician chosen to lead Zambia