President Edgar Lungu says he cannot fire his Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations Amos Chanda because the ACC has cleared him several times.
And President Lungu says even if the UPND came into power, corruption would continue because of faulty systems which leave room for theft of public resources.
Speaking at Government Complex during the commemoration of the International Anti-Corruption Day, President Lungu revealed that the ACC had summoned Chanda several times.
“I want it to be known that an allegation against corruption against a minister will not entail that he has to be dropped, no, he has to be investigated, once he is investigated he should be brought to book, no one is above the law, but in this particular case I am talking about, this minister was questioned and he said ‘who are you? I am a minister’. And then ACC told me ‘look, your minister is not cooperating’, I said ‘I will drop him’. At that point you can be dropped because Amos Chanda has been invited several times by ACC to answer queries and he has answered, he has cooperated with the ACC, which is as it should be. He has been found clean and he has come back to work,” President Lungu said.
He reiterated that he would not drop any of his ministers based on unfounded corruption allegations.
“If you say ‘Given Lubinda is corrupt, I will not drop him, I will allow you to investigate him and if you find him wanting, you can prosecute him but if Given Lubinda becomes a challenge to your inquiries and investigations, I will drop him, that’s how I work. I want to make this very clear that if Given Lubinda says ‘no, you can’t talk to me because I am minister, then me and Given Lubinda will part company and that is how I part company with some ministers but whether ACC takes 20 years, 30 years to investigate because they don’t have resources, I will not go into that but I can tell you that we all have to protect the little wealth that we have by being clean. Those who have evidence of corruption should help ACC by giving evidence,” President Lungu said.
He also said it was not true that he was the embodiment of corruption.
“Let us cooperate with the ACC and support them by giving them space to work. I want to make it very clear because they think that I tolerate corruption, somebody said ‘I am corruption itself or I am the manifestation of corruption’, I am not because I believe that the wealth that we have belongs to the people and we should use it properly,” President Lungu said.
“I personally and as PF president will not condone corruption in my government and I will not look kindly upon members of my government who take advantage of their positions to enrich themselves at the expense of the Zambian people. And I want to tell you, if it means it is an exposé, that I have not fired many ministers, but I have fired a few. One of them was fired because there was a report that he was suspected to be involved in corruption. And up to now, I am waiting for investigators to investigate this man and bring him to book but they have not done so. Why haven’t they done so? I beg to be told but I want to make it clear that I will not tolerate corruption. If you come to me and tell me X, Y, Z has committed corruption or abuse of office and I feel that there is a possibility that this is real, I will say, ‘go ahead and bring him to book’.”
President Lungu said people must be weary of wolves in sheep’s clothing were pretending to champion the fight against corruption for selfish reasons.
“Let’s guard against wolves in sheep’s skin in our crusade against corruption. There are so many wolves in our midst who have put on the cloth of the crusade against corruption, who are championing the fight against corruption daily but they don’t even know what they mean, what they want is to hoodwink people that they are sincere. They get positions, they do what they want to do and then in the end, abuse the processes. I think that those who believe and belong to the crusade against corruption should be ashamed that they are not here today,” he said.
And President Lungu said even if the UPND was voted into office, corruption could not end under the current systems.
“What we see in the Auditor General’s report is always historical, it is water under the bridge and sometimes you find that a person has been picked, he stole money and using the same money, he will hire the best lawyers. Even if you change PF today, PF government goes and you bring in UPND or whichever government you may wish to bring in, with the current set up, the abuse of office will continue, the corruption will continue because the mechanisms are not adequate, they are not even there. Auditor General’s report is always historical. PAC talked about things which happened three, four years ago.
So let us have effective measures in place, let us have procedures which will nab the culprits before the plunder,” said President Lungu.