Honourable Ronald Chitotela has threatened to eliminate my life if I continue debating against the corruption under PF, Choma Central UPND member of parliament Cornelius Mweetwa told parliament, Wednesday.
Mweetwa who rose on a point of order informed the house that the Housing and Infrastructure Development Minster issued life threatening remarks at break time after he made reference to the swelling corruption in the PF government.
“I have found it extremely compelling that I raise this point of order because of the transactions in the last few days. My I state, madam chairperson, that I am cognisant of the fact that amongst the fundamental roles that I should play as a member of parliament like all of my colleagues beyond representation and legislation, is budget approval and debate thereof, and providing oversight on the executive. That is the reason why the people of Choma Central voted for me. Last week, when this house was considering a head under Ministry of Home Affairs and in particular Zambia Police, I stood on the floor of this house to share my thoughts on that particular motion,” Mweetwa said in his point of order.
“And as you would agree with me, madam chairperson, I debated Zambia police the way I saw it and in my discourse, I made reference to corruption that is obtaining under the leadership of PF. I didn’t make mention of any particular individual. And as you know me, my debates are guarded. I don’t make blank [or] baseless statements. I pointed to the areas which are in public domain in respect of corruption and in areas where citizens are not satisfied with the way public funds are being used. And one of those areas I referenced in my debate was the US$4.3 million constructed under the ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development. A tollgate worth US $4.3 million that this should not have been the way we should be spending money [because] this money should have gone to police. I concluded my discourse by stating that this idea of saying’ you want to go and arrest HH’ we as members of the UPND last time did a lot of work to restrain people not to go on the streets, which this time we are not prepared to do. And you provided council madam chairperson after I made that statement.”
He narrated how the minister approached him during tea break and issued him with life threatening remarks if he continued debating against the alleged corruption under his ministry.
“At break time, the Minister of Infrastructure Development, I suspect it is because of my reference to a tollgate worth US $4.3 million, met me at the lounge down stairs here and told me ‘iwe mwaiche iwe’ meaning you young man, ‘why are you debating like that on the floor of this house? Don’t you know that you are risking your life?’ and I told him that ‘I am a policeman.’ I am trained not to fear to die. He said ‘what I am telling you is serious’ this minister here [who] is my elder brother. And he said ‘what I am telling you is serious, if you don’t know, there are people in this country who are trained, employed and paid to eliminate people,’ ‘so this line of debate you are taking mwaiche you are risking your life,” Mweetwa charged.
He said at first he thought the threats were a joke when in fact not.
“As if that was not enough, because I have a long standing history of friendship and comradeship with my elder brother, and I respect him, he knows that I have always told him that in my opinion, ‘he is one of the sober ministers. I took it as a joke the way we joke because I joke with many ministers and members because they are my personal friends who are in PF. So I took it that way,” he said.
In his narrative, Mweetwa said he was reminded that government had wings charged with the responsibility of eliminating people’s lives.
“Now yesterday (Tuesday), after my debate on Religious Affairs [Ministry], where again I made reference to corruption obtaining under PF and pointed to those areas of corruption such as social cash transfer abuse, ministry of education and three officers under his ministry that have been suspended and I also made reference to the toll-gate worth US $4.3 million. My elder brother went to other UPND members of parliament indicating to say ‘Mweetwa’s debates are not good debates. I did confront him to warn him that in this country, there is a wing trained to eliminate people, that wing of government which President Rupiah Banda didn’t use, and President Michael Sata didn’t use, but that wing is there to eliminate people,” he further charged.
Mweetwa who wondered whether or not he was still protected under the parliamentary privileges and immunities of the house asked for the speaker’s ruling on the matter.
“I am talking about life here. I was elected to come here and debate issues fearlessly and that’s what I do here. Madam chairperson, is my elder brother the Minister of Infrastructure Development in order to begin to instil fear in members of parliament of the UPND? Attempt to instil fear in me? And madam speaker, is he in order to inform me and other members of parliament whose names I will withhold, that government has a wing that can cause harm and even kill people. Is he in order to instil that fear and threaten death to me a member of parliament for Choma Central constituency, elected by the people? And by extension of those threats, threaten harm and or death to my family members who could become a target in the execution of those threats. Considering the privileges and immunities of this house, is my elder brother the Minister of Infrastructure, Housing anf whatever Development, in order to do what he is doing to me when I am merely stating facts in respect of the corruption obtaining under PF? I seek your serous ruling madam chairperson,” said mweetwa.
First deputy speaker Catherine Namugala reserved her ruling to allow her investigate the matter.