The Southern Africa Network Against Corruption (SANAC) executive director Gregory Chifire has asked President Edgar Lungu to relieve Housing and Infrastructure Development Minister Ronald Chitotela of his duties in order to allow the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) to smoothly investigate corruption allegations against the minister and his permanent secretary Charles Mushota.

The ACC summoned Chitotela for questioning on Wednesday afternoon, and the minister surrendered himself to investigators at the institution incognito. However sources at ACC disclosed that he was interviewed along with his permanent secretary Charles Mushota in relation to the vehicles bought by the Road Development Agency for the two government officials.

The sources said the minister was expected to be summoned back to ACC for warn and caution “unless plot one says we should not go ahead”.

In a statement yesterday, Chifire said he was happy with the move, but expressed concern that if Chitotela was not fired during the investigation process, the move could be a stunt to launder the minister.

“The Southern Africa Network Against Corruption(SANAC) has welcomed the decision to interrogate and investigate Minister of Infrastructure, Ronald Chitotela and his Permanent Secretary, Mr Charles Mushota over the case of abuse of Authority of Office when the dual directed the Road Development Agency (RDA) to buy for the dual a motor vehicle each. However we must hasten to state that we are concerned over the inertia with which the ACC is handling this matter. It is our prayer that this is not one of those attempts to use state institution to launder corruption tugged individuals so as to create the over used and boring statement often made by those controlling state power that their colleagues have been investigated and cleared by the ACC . We have been through that road before,” said Chifire.

“The case at hand is a prima facie case of abuse of Authority of Office, which is prosecutable by any competent court of jurisdiction. As SANAC, we are following this matter with keen interest because it has for a long time raised a lot of dust at the RDA. As a way of covering up this abuse, the dual engineered the dismissal of two directors at the Agency, namely Loyce Saili, who was Director of Communication and Corporate affairs and Mwaka Ngoma who was Director Legal Services as well as Engineer Kanyuka Mumba who objected to the purchase of the two vehicles.”

He urged the ACC to extend the investigation to RDA.

“It is SANAC’s view that the ACC should also extend their investigations to include the RDA Director and CEO Engineer Elias Mwape for complicit in this matter. It is an open secret that the dual, in an act of desperation, through Mr Mwape, forced workers at the Agency to sign confidentiality documents as a vow to never discuss this matter. This is in violation of the constitution of the Republic of Zambia which among others calls for citizens to defend the republic of Zambia against inimical elements and further goes against our National Principles and values as enshrined in Article 8 of the Republican Constitution,” said Chifire.

“We are also aware that Mr Chitotela is being investigated for other offences relating to corruption. This is not the first time that Mr Chitotela and his PS, Mr Mushota have been charged with corruption. Mr Chitotela was fired by the late President Sata, while Mr Mushota was fired by the late President Mwanawasa. As a way of ensuring that there is no interference with investigations, we demand that President Lungu relieves Mr Chitotela and his PS, Mr Mushota of their duties. We further demanded that the RDA board sends the CEO on leave to pave way for investigations.”