Wednesday, June 19, 2024

President Lungu’s double standard on the fight against corruption


Minister of Infrastructure Ronald Chitotela explains on the progress of the road to President Edgar Lungu during the inspecting the progress on Lumumba roads
FILE: Minister of Infrastructure Ronald Chitotela explains on the progress of the road to President Edgar Lungu during the inspecting the progress on Lumumba roads

By Frazer Bwalya Musonda

On the 5th of February 2019, the inconceivable in Zambia’s political dispensation happened. A cabinet minister with a seemingly very good relationship with the president was arrested by the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) on charges of corruption. My reaction to the news was a mixture of a deep feeling of pride in our governance institutions and a strong suspicion of a possible ploy to get rid of a potential challenger for the 2021 PF presidency. The latter is the view that even the vice president for the UPND (GBM) held and apparently one held by a prominent Zambian lawyer Elias Munshya. The reactions from Zambians were equally mixed. The questioning and eventual arrest of the minister was particularly unprecedented under the PF government.

When president Lungu before his departure for a campaign tour in Sesheke was asked to comment on the arrest of Hon Chitotela, his answer according to me revealed his lack of commitment to the fight against corruption in Zambia. The president said that he would only fire Housing and Infrastructure Development Minister if the courts found him guilty of corruption. He went on to explain how he relied on similar information from the ACC to fire Hon Chishimba Kambwili, a decision he seemed to have regretted because the former information minister had not yet been proven guilty up to now.

The president’s response when relativized to his response to the scandal of misuse of donor funds at the ministry of community development is conflicting. Hon Emerine Kabanshi was fired based on allegations of misuse of donor funds in her ministry. In making the announcement, the chief government spokesperson Dora Siliya indicated that the president had “acted swiftly, relieving Hon. E. Kabanshi as Minister of Community Development following misuse of funds allegations in her ministry.” In this instance, the president was not willing to allow the courts of law or government investigative wings to prove wrong doing on the part of Hon Kabanshi but he went ahead and fired her.

One possible conclusion one could draw from this is that the president was paying lip service when he declared his commitment to enhancing gender parity in Zambia’s political spectrum. I imagine that NGOs that champion women’s rights and participation in governance should have pointed out this hypocrisy. Hon Kabanshi was a very loyal PF suppoter, who used to say “His excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu” in almost every sentence she uttered like is the case with most ministers, permanent sectretaries and distict commissioners plus she actually supported the “Lungu 2021 sole candidate campaign”. These two seem to be the clearest signs of loyalty to the president in PF. Take it a step further and add “The great leader of this great nation” after “His excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu” you will gain immense favour with the head of state. Based on this loyalty testing criteria that the PF have come up with, Hon. Kabanshi passes. Perhaps her failure was not getting in front of ZNBC cameras so often to show this loyalty like Hon Chitotela did.

The other possible conclusion could be that the president has a “muzungu anikonde syndrome”. I am originally from the Copperbelt province and have basic knowledge of Nyanja but my understanding of this syndrome is a black person that goes to unnecessary extremes trying to please a white person. This is deeply rooted in the inferiority complex that the Europeans managed to infuse into Africans during colonial rule. Growing up I remember seeing certain parents praising their children saying “musungu uyu” whenever those children behaved exceptionally well. “Musungu uyu” literally translates “This is a white person”. Donor aid represents a very small percentage of Zambia’s budget compared to the total revenues generated from our economy. Tax and non tax revenues still remain the biggest contributors to the resource envelope even in Zambia’s 2019 budget. The firing of Hon Kabanshi and the reluctance to fire Hon Chitotela seems to indicate that donor aid which is smaller compare to domestic revenues is more important. President Lungu would rather fire Hon Kabanshi to please European donors but still keep Hon Chitotela in his position because Zambian tax payers are not as important as European donors.

The third possible conclusion could be that president Lungu has done similar deals with Chinese companies and he is aware of the minister’s conduct; In which case he sees nothing wrong. This narrative is largely supported by the fact that the president declared K2.5 million worth of assets in 2015, a figure that rose by a factor of more than 9 in just one year. In the western world; and by my reference to the western world I do not mean it is perfect, Hon. Chitotela should have been forced to resign based on conflict of interests. Being a minister and having companies that are awarded contracts is suspicious but unfortunately that is the culture we have cultivated and view as okay as Zambians.

Whatever reason(s) the president has for his reluctance to suspend the minister as investigations and the court process continue for me highlights his inadequacy and lack of good will towards the fight against graft in Zambia.

The author is a Zambian youth who believes Zambia deserve better governance than the status quo.


  1. This is the worst president we’ve ever had.With due respect to Hus office honestly, the man has no principles as illustrated in this article. He is definitely an intelligent man conversant with Public Service procedures, he chooses to go against it and wants us to believe he’s trying to be fair,he then to all intelligent people to be foolish, however his stooges minting gold from his weakness begin paroting what they don’t believe, on how wise(stupid) the president is..Cry Africa,Museveni,Mugabe,Kabila…Cry the beloved countries!

  2. Something has to be very wrong with this president if he thinks the ridiculous explanation he has given for not firing Chitotela has found traction with Zambians. The honest truth is that with such decisions he looses credibility and trust amongst the citizenry. The day of reckoning is drawing close. Chitotela is either thick – skinned or does not have much between the ears to stand up let alone turn up in parliament when fellow parliamentarians walk out when you speak! A sensible person with a conscience would resign without being pushed!!

    • I totally agree with you Kaling’ongo.

      The mistake Zambians made was to vote for a riff-raff drunkard with no moral or awareness compass as leader.

      Lungu does not care if he is respected or not as long as his wallet is bulging.

      Corruption and Lungu are conjoined.

      For how long are you going to groan and whine.
      I hope you’re not the only one feeling that way. If you have grounds and evidence take him on, use parley, courts and other layed provisions. Otherwise you are not making any sense. Our constitution and rules are too wide and big to omit methods of dealing with an erring leader. If you can’t figure it out, you’re just an empty tin. Not inspiring at all. Don’t tell me institutions of Governance can’t address your concerns. If you can’t take a move, you are the only one/ones seeing black while others are seeing white.
      Don’t use the street though – institutions of Governance concerned will deal with you accordingly if you take that route.
      Illusions are misleading. Being delusional is a disease.

  3. If the author of this very shallow and mad laden article is a youth, then I fear what I have suspected for so long, empty, not knowledgeable and self misleading youth. I just hope other youths in the country arent associating with such people like the writer because they risk being polluted and rendered as misfits. They say a good leader is a good listener and if this youth bothered to listen very carefully what President Lungu implied, he wouldnt be wasting his brains on speculation. President Lungu was very clear and to the point. He said, ACC cried day and night in his office that Kambwili was corrupt and needed to be fired for them to prosecute him. President Lungu obliged and relieved Kambwili of his Ministerial position but TO-DATE, two years after his dismal, Kambwili has not been…

    • Right on Malinso. For now it is up to Chitotela to step down to allow for investigations. Otherwise, while ACC has been given all the mandate to operate freely, they are seriously wanting – and not the President. In fact, Kambwili, who has been singing the loudest about corruption in PF is very free to present evidence on Chitotela.

    • If the President now belives tha he was misled by ACC and other investigative organs why not reinstate Hon. Kambwili and wait for the court to decide his fate ?By doing so people will believe him. It is likely that Hon. Chitotela’s case will not be concluded before 2020 Convension for various resoans.

  4. contd
    President Lungu was very clear and to the point. He said, ACC cried day and night in his office that Kambwili was corrupt and needed to be fired for them to prosecute him. President Lungu obliged and relieved Kambwili of his Ministerial position but TO-DATE, two years after his dismal, Kambwili has not been found with any case by the ACC. So what was the motive of the ACC? Are they infiltrated by UPND so that they can hip unfounded allegations on strong PF members so that once fired Akainde, the Satanist can then embrace the unsuspecting victims just to escort him to the ballot? Sadly, all these schemes by HH and UPND are now known and yet again wont work for HH and UPND. I hope Kambwili has come to his senses that he was trapped by the red eyed serpent……

    • Malinso
      This strategy by PF of diverting important issues to HH and UPND is what will kill them.
      Personally i always viewed UPND with suspicion,but believe me if elections were called today i would rather go for purported tribalists who have more substance and competence than the incompetent,non tribal corrupt PF.When all is said PF have made their bed and they will soon be lying in it.Your response to criticism cant be pointing at your opponents and bad mouthing them.You have failed to answer the questions the author raises but would rather paint your opponents black.This cant and will not work

    • @Shawama: What substance does upnd have??? What progressive laws have they proposed apart from bringing social media based points of order to the house???

  5. Instead of suspending Chitola based on the rumours, the president is in fact, ready to kick Chitotela but the ACC should do their job 1st.

    Otherwise, all the ministers will be suspended and nothing comes after that. So stop pushing the president instead push the ACC to take Chitola to court.

    Many people have been suspended only to find that their are innocent. The ACC seems not serious with their work. Its wrong what the ACC is doing. They are alarming the nation for nothing.

  6. This youth is the example of an educated dunderhead because he has failed to research that in the recent past GBM the current Vice President of the UPND and vice to the Supreme Leader HH was investigated by the ACC while serving as Defence Minister under late President Sata. The other serving Minister was for Justice Mr Winter Kabimba was also investigated by the ACC and in all cases they were not dropped. So this youth can only hoodwink the UPND who are into group think mentality and suffer from acute inferiority complex.

    • Understand the difference between being investigated( GBM/WINTER) and being charged(Chitotela) you numbskull. Country cant develop if its populated by dio.ts like you. Its an insult to the upright people of Zambia to have leaders who have no shame.

  7. Fwanya
    What credibility do you think some of us give to Sata?So you think if Sata did that then it is good leadership practice?If you should know it is because of Sata that we are were we are.Sata is the one who had the talent of identifying and working with goons who as it has shown are not fit in any model of leadership.The only talent Sata had was selling himself,campaigning,beyond that his brief history as president shows that he was totally unfit to be president,and dont forget you cant change or rewrite history,Sata’s history is cast in stone,mwitubepa

  8. Sometimes people should learn to listen to words or pronouncements of wisdom or advice, in bemba their is a saying that a person who does not listed to advice went with fecal matter on his trousers to his in laws. Today the Chitotela issue is taking rounds in social media both locally and internationally, yet our president has insisted that he will not fire Chitotela until the courts find him guilty, to make matters worse this same shameless man is taking up media space by making political pronouncements and instructions, now who in his right senses can seriously listen to the political pronouncements being made by an accused person like Chitotela and by extension his appointing authority?, because the pronouncements being made by Chitotela are being made through him by the appointing…

    • Which law has the president broken? Isn’t he by virtue of being president well advised on everything you’re complaining about? Perceptions perceptions. Get the hell over it and let’s roll.
      If people are still happy with him, come 2021 people will resoundingly hand that seat back as double h and his cliques continue and mourning and grieving. The president has the attorney general AG to offer expert advise to the leader, the president. Get over it.

    • @8.1 The Thorn in the Flesh,
      Theres a thin line between wisdom, ethics and stupidity. He was charged and arrested, what more do you want? what more evidence ethically does the president need? If he cant be fired, can he be suspended until this issue is disposed off to allow smooth investigations and to keep the presidents name clean?
      What are ethics for?
      Ask your “lets roll” friend Br Mumba, on this one he agrees with me (since you have a tendency of supporting silly things)

      Moving with the wind.
      I refuse to move with the wind.
      It is common to be arrested and not charged if you don’t mean a thing in society. But for politicians, they are usually quickly arrested and hastily charged so that bail or police bond is quickly made available. It is a human right. When you are charged, you plead not guilty to a charge. You make a statement and head to court. Prosecutors and defendants play this role, but even at that point it is incumbent upon the people who made the arrested to battle it out in court with sufficient evidence to have you convicted. Even at this point you are not percieved guilty in the face of the law until the judge adjudicates after hearing presentation of points to disprove one’s guiltness from the defence…

    • …team and otherwise arguments from prosecutors. Chitotela and CK are not guilty until proven otherwise by the courts of law. They may be guilty in the courts of public eyes to which you subscribe. Let justice prevail.
      Tell us, at what point is Chitotela Guilty without a guilty plea?

      Your lunatic friend @ 8.2 gbouy above is as confused as you are. He seems to be suggesting that when you are arrested and charged, then you are guilty. Guiltiness at the courts of law means the arrested has entered a guilty plea or the court after sessions and deliberations (hearings from prosecutors and defendants) have found the prosecutor team more believable than the defendants with overwhelming evidence. The ACC constitutes the prosecutor team. Chitotela’s lawyers are defendants. If they outsmart prosecutors, Chitotela is a free man. Free at last, free at last. In the CK case, prosecutors are claiming that the suspect (CK or his lawyers) frustrate them. So they can’t make progress. So it is either CK is…

    • … is buying time or ACC has no enough teeth or evidenc or you have incompetent prosecutors at the ACC. So cases drag, 1yr, 2yrs 3yrs…. I personally can’t blame the president on this one. I am so disappointed at the ACC’s progress that I call for Reforms. Parley’s Oversight committee should be asking questions on what is going on at the ACC and Institute amends to the Act that drives the ACC. Instead of the Deads walking out, they must legislate not calling for a useless and unproductive dialogue.

      Sometimes laws and Acts of parliament run archaic. They need fine tuning as thieves get smarter and smarter. Seal those loops and give more teeth to bodies like the ACC so they could function properly – charge and sufficiently dispose of cases efficiently and effectively. So that there…

    • …. are no excuses of saying the suspect is not cooperating. If Chitotela really stole, are you in the right senses to suggest that he’s going without a fight? Sorry, bad as it sounds, but it is innocent until proven guilty.

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