THE Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) must ensure that Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya gets appropriate charges should the corruption allegations levelled against him be proven right, says National Democratic Congress (NDC) president Chishimba Kambwili.
Last month, the ACC summoned Dr Chilufya for interrogations into charges of alleged corrupt practices and acquisition of property suspected to have been proceeds of crime following several complaints from members of the public.
Dr Chilufya appeared for a scheduled interview on February 20 at the ACC’s head office in Lusaka.
Commenting on the development, Kambwili urged the ACC to ensure that they restored public confidence by giving people accused of corruption the appropriate charges they deserved regardless of their status should their investigations prove to find them wanting.
He, however, lamented that the ACC was now being used to launder the image of public office bearers as investigations into alleged criminality usually ended up nowhere.
“There has been a lot of allegations against Chitalu Chilufya and I think it is just right that ACC must get an interest. The man has acquired wealth that he cannot explain! Let the Anti-Corruption get to him and find out. But then the problem is, the Anti-Corruption in its current form, people seem to have lost confidence in them because it’s like the Anti-Corruption is being used to launder people, those in government, from their corruption. They want to call them and nothing happens after that or when they call them then they go and pick a very useless charge for them, which they know that will not suffice in court to convict them. So, that is just a way of cleaning them so that in future when people want to complain against the same issues, they will say, ‘no, they were cleared by the ACC and the courts,’ so it’s very unfortunate,” Kambwili said in an interview.
“But I want to appeal to ACC that let them give confidence to the people of Zambia by giving these people the appropriate charges that they deserve. If it is the opposition…just look at how he (Chitalu Chilufya) was summoned, even you, the media: did you know that he had been summoned? You only came to know afterwards. But when they call Chishimba Kambwili, you all see how they behave, they announce: ‘we have summoned Dr Kambwili to appear before us. He will be appearing tomorrow at 10:00 hours.’ But when they call these people in government, they don’t announce. But then, they just can’t hide, there will be one or two people who share privately and leak it to the media that this person was actually summoned. Now, the question is, why would ACC behave like that? If they want to question Hakainde, they will announce that, ‘we have summoned Hakainde.’ Even when the police summon me, they announce it well in advance! But when they summon those in government, it is quiet. It was only until the media made an inquiry was when ACC issued a statement. So, that in itself tells you that those investigations are a smoke-screen, there is nothing that will come out of them.”
And Kambwili, the former Roan PF member of parliament, also regretted that Dr Chilufya’s continued stay in office would undermine the ongoing investigations into his alleged corruption.
“He should have stepped down because obviously that is the normal thing, that is why you can even see that these investigations are not genuine. How does a government Minister, being investigated, even goes to Parliament to issue statements on behalf of the government? He is even addressing members of the diplomatic corps on issues pertaining to his Ministry when on the other side he’s being probed? It doesn’t make sense because his office may interfere with the investigations. Even those at ACC, they cannot be free; they would be fearing to interrogate a Minister and just that will make the whole thing an academic exercise. But then Chitalu Chilufya himself should have conscience. If he’s really got morals on his own, he can just say: ‘I am stepping down so that the investigations can be carried out and once I am cleared, the President will look at re-appointing me.’ But because there are no morals, they are in those positions for money. Lusambo told us that they cannot let go of the sweet because they are enjoying! So, because of the sweet that is in those offices, they can’t resign on moral grounds,” said Kambwili.