President Edgar Lungu is crying wolf to protect his own interests because his government is the most corrupt Zambia has ever had, Southern Africa Network Against Corruption (SANAC) executive director Gregory Chifire has charged.

During the swearing in of board of commissioners of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) at State House last Thursday, President Lungu said it was unfair that detractors had branded him, his family and government as corrupt without evidence.

He further said although whistle-blowers were welcome, they endanger their own freedom if they make false, frivolous or groundless accusations.

But in an interview, Chifire, who is currently in exile, expressed disappointment at President Lungu’s remarks saying the Head of State was supposed to encourage people to expose corruption rather than ignore the vice.

“I find that as an embankment to derail the fight against corruption! It’s so disappointing because the President is supposed to be in the forefront to encourage people to bring up issues of corruption against government officials or whoever is involved in corruption. On the other hand, I’m not surprised because this same President has time and again asked people to bring evidence regarding corruption in his government and people have brought evidence, including the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) and ACC, whose board he was swearing in, but he has failed to act on that. He has even to an extent of rubbishing the FIC (Trends) Report,” Chifire said.

He charged that President Lungu was “crying wolf” to protect his own interest as his government was a product of corruption.

“The President must show seriousness in the fight against corruption. His statement is just creating a fertile breeding ground for corruption! He is crying wolf to protect his own interest because his government is a product of corruption. Even children know that this is the most corrupt government that Zambia has ever had. He should not be in a forefront to muzzle citizens so that they must not speak against corruption in his own government,” Chifire added.

He said President Lungu was wrong to try and suppress freedom of expression.

“In a society like Zambia where corruption is so high, people will vent their anger by going on social media and talk about corruption. That is actually within their freedom of expression. As a lawyer, the President is wrong by trying to suppress freedom of expression, which people have. He is supposed to encourage people to bring evidence of corruption. He even says that he has disciplined those that have been found wanting in terms of corruption, which ones? Two months ago, he was busy protecting his Minister that was charged of corruption by ACC by concealing of properties suspected to be proceeds of crime! Did he fire him? He didn’t [but] encouraged him to continue. This same Minister was discharged in very suspicious circumstances by the courts,” said Chifire.

“Let him be honest with himself and check himself, members of Cabinet, party cadres and see how much wealth they have gained over this short space of time, including himself! We know that majority of people in this government are corrupt. If he reads news, let him compare his PF administration to administrations that have been before him. He will see that there is a big difference!”