UPND Leader Hakainde Hichilema says President Edgar Lungu’s arguments that Infrastructure Development Minister Ronald Chitotela cannot be fired on grounds that he is innocent until proven guilty has set a very bad precedent for the country.
Mr. Hichilema says the offences slapped on Mr. Chitotela so far are a mere joke as they do not match what we believe is a grand corruption matrix which implicates a number of very high level PF politicians and government officials.
He said going by President Lungu’s arguments, it is now highly irregular for any organization in the country to dismiss or indeed put on suspension or on forced leave any of their erring employees who are facing disciplinary action until their matter has been determined.
“This means all the more than 80 officers, including the Permanent Secretary, who are currently on suspension from the Ministry of Education on mere suspicion of financial embezzlement must immediately go back to work until their matter has been concluded”, he said.
Mr. Hichilema said former Minister of Community Development Emerine Kabanshi and her officers plus the Post Master General McPherson Chanda and his officers who were dismissed on mere allegations of misusing the Social Cash Transfer Funds must immediately resume work until their matter has been determined.
He said the UPND is also aware that there are a number of account stuff and officials at the same Ministry of Infrastructure who are currently on suspension on mere suspicion of financial embezzlement, and these must equally be allowed to go back for work.
Mr. Hichilema said there are several other public service and private sector employees that are on suspension or on forced leave facing disciplinary hearings or are in court facing various charges, who must equally go back to work until their matters have been determined.
“In fact, some of the affected officers in both government and private sector are on suspension, forced leave, facing disciplinary hearings when they have not even been arrested by law enforcement agencies. Bank tellers, teal operators in shops and other companies on suspension or on forced leave on suspicion of financial embezzlement must equally go back to work”, he added.
Mr. Hichilema said as a suspect going through court hearings, Mr. Chitotela will still be flying the pride of the Zambian flag, representing the country at both local and international stage, proudly meeting various dignitaries, and later drive the ministerial vehicles to court.
“In fact, going by President Lungu’s arguments, had Mr. Chitotela been charged with a none boilable offence, he would have been coming from Chimbokaila prison on daily basis going for work. And yet, in normal circumstances, the mere act of being arrested by law enforcement agencies should have triggered a resignation voluntarily by Chitotela on moral grounds, Mr. Hichilema said.
He said going by the media reports on the alleged plunder and corruption going on at Mr. Chitotela’s Ministry, it fully confirms that he is indeed a special Minister who is blackmailing the top core of the entire PF leadership.
He said like the UPND has repeatedly said, when these people are plundering, they are equally hell bent in trying to divide as a country so that we don’t unite together to liberate ourselves, yet they are not sharing their loot with anyone.
Mr. Hichilema said it is time we united together as citizens as we are all suffering at the hands of these economic saboteurs.