SOUTHERN Africa Network Against Corruption executive director Gregory Chifire has charged that as the 2021 elections approach, the ruling party will increase the level of stealing so as to raise money for campaigns.

In an interview, Chifire said it would be reckless to expect President Edgar Lungu to fire Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya or any other government officer on account of facing corruption charges.

He charged that the Head of State had no political will to fight corruption as he was conflicted.

“It would be foolhardy to expect President Lungu to fire Dr Chitalu Chilufya or indeed any other government officer on account of facing corruption charges. Lungu has no political will to fight corruption because he is conflicted. Corruption is bred and incubated at Statehouse. Firing Chilufya will be against Lungu’s conscience. These arrests by the ACC are just there for window dressing and political expediency. For as long as the PF remains in government, the fight against corruption shall remain a far fetched dream. Stealing of public money shall continue to be the order of the day,” Chifire charged.

He said Zambians should brace themselves for even harsher times thieving would escalate as 2021 approached.

“Zambians must brace themselves for even harsher times because as we go towards elections the PF will even increase the level of stealing in order to raise money for campaigns. At an opportune time, when we shall count the level of theft of public money commissioned under President Lungu’s administration, it shall be found that it surpasses that happened under the 47 years of UNIP and MMD combined,” he said.

And Chifire said President Lungu should be ashamed of shielding corruption accused persons.

“President Lungu should be ashamed for shielding those charged with corruption under the veil of the doctrine of presumption of innocence. This doctrine needs to be balanced with the provision of an environment that provides fair access to the accused by the investigation authorities bereft of influence. And this can only be achieved if the accused is excused from performing official duties during the period of investigation so as to avoid influencing investigation. This is a common standard in the commonwealth. Actually, this has always been the case in Zambia,” said Chifire.

“This has been practiced by Mr Lungu’s predecessors. It is therefore ironic that Lungu has broken the good old legacy that illuminated the investigation process of top government officials.”

Last week, President Lungu’s Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations Isaac Chipampe said there were no standing rules compelling the Head of State to suspend or fire a minister who was facing corruption allegations.

He said this in relation to the Health Minister who is under investigation for alleged abuse of office in relation to multiple properties that he allegedly owns.