It is disappointing that President Edgar Lungu can be defending people alleged to be involved in illegalities, says Governance Elections Advocacy and Research Services (GEARS) executive director McDonald Chipenzi.

In his State of the Nation Address last Friday, President Edgar Lungu said; “That name will take you to court”, after a member of the House shouted “Findlay! Findlay!” as he was reading his speech.

President Lungu’s relationship with businessman Valden Findlay, who was named in a major drug trafficking scandal in court papers in the United States, has been a topic of discussion recently.

But in an interview, Chipenzi said it was disheartening that corrupt people were being defended by the Head of State when they should be investigated by relevant authorities.

“Indeed, it’s very sad to say the least, that the President is in the forefront defending people alleged to be involved in a lot of illegality in this country! You don’t expect the President to be the one warning people that ‘don’t mention that name or you are going to be in court’ when he is supposed to be directing the institutions of government like the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) and others to take keen interest in such allegations, and this is why we have diluted the fight against fraud, against money laundering and against corruption,” Chipenzi said.

“No wonder, now, you have houses mushrooming like mushrooms in the rainy season without the owner! Anyone can claim that ‘no, this is my mushroom’, the 48 houses, why? It’s because the President himself has not been a champion and a crusader of anti-corruption crusades, all he has been doing is trying to defend…I think you can even remember the issue of (Ronald) Chitotela; how the President himself defended the man from all the allegations.”

He also complained that President Lungu had been a letdown in the fight against corruption as he was sponsoring the Constitution Amendment Bill 10 to give the PF more power.

“So, these are the issues that I think the Zambian people have clearly seen that the President has been a letdown in the fight against corruption. The President has been a letdown in cleaning the governance system in this country from all practices, such as fraud, money laundering, and abuse and so on and so forth. No wonder they are now even sponsoring a constitutional bill that will give them even more power to defend even such kinds of characters in our society. It is up to us Zambians to stand up and defend our Constitution as provided for in our Constitution, and also to stand up and speak out against these ills that have been perpetuated and defended, protected by our own leaders that we have elected,” said Chipenzi.