ALLIANCE for Democracy and Development president Charles Milupi says President Edgar Lungu’s justification for not firing corruption-accused Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya gives credence to assertions that he prefers to associate with corrupt people.

Speaking in an interview Milupi said the decision that was taken was wrong as the President should be the first to uphold morals in the country.

“The portfolio of the Minister, especially when we have this pandemic, this is a serious pandemic, do you really need some in charge of this health portfolio to be the one who goes to court, the one who is supposed to prepare his defence? Or would want someone who has a free mind to lead us out of this pandemic? So from an administrative point of view, the President is totally wrong! I don’t know who advises him but it gives credence to the notion that he prefers to be with corrupt people because this Minister is not the only one alleged to be corrupt, he is not the only one who has been taken before court,” Milupi said.

“That is why we are even so suspicious of even the acquittals we are seeing of these Ministers, because it might just be a ploy to get these people off if there is a change of government. The President ought to show that the fight against corruption is real because it has impacted negatively on our economy. That is why our engagement with the IMF and other bilateral bodies will not proceed successfully until we show that we are on top of corruption. When you have a Minister appearing before court and you act as if you are clever that he is innocent until proven guilty, you are doing this country a lot of harm because the re-adjustment of our debts which is required will not happen as long as they continue to take the attitude like that.”

He insisted that keeping Dr Chilufya in office sent a wrong message to law enforcement agencies and judges.

“In this particular case when you get a Minister to continue, the President is sending a message that he is 100 per cent behind this Minister. If he sends a message like that, that he is 100 percent for this Minister, if that message goes to the judge, goes to the magistrate, goes to the prosecutor, goes to the Director of Public Prosecution, goes to DEC goes to everybody that ‘I as President I am 100 per cent in support of this particular Minister in terms of the case, so be careful’, so let us look at what has happened in the past. Emerine Kabanshi, at what stage did he fire her from Cabinet? It was not even investigated, the matter was not even before courts but he dismissed her on account of the allegations that were made. We have no problem with that but this Minister of Health has been charged and the matter is before courts,” said Milupi.

“This leaves us in a very bad state because the President should be the number one moral guide for this country. The President should be the number one law officer. One would expect that for the President to rise where he is as President of this country, he has done basic administration in other areas leading to his ascension to the Presidency. If you look at the country, there is a hierarchy; first the is the President, there is the Vice-President then there are Ministers, that is the highest level, I am talking about the Executive. When the Anti-Corruption Commission finds that there is sufficient evidence for them to pursue a case against that particular Minister, they need the freedom and latitude to be able to execute that without looking over their shoulders afraid that this person might do this or that because they are juniors to the Cabinet Minister. That is why the President is expected, when a matter like that happens, that he lays off that Minister; either fires them or suspends them, relieving him of their duties to allow the law enforcement officer to carry out their jobs properly. So when the matter goes to court, first of all the prosecutors, the witnesses, or the DEC they should not be under any pressure that this person they are doing this to can carry out certain actions that are detrimental to our well being.”