UPND deputy secretary general Patrick Mucheleka says Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Dora Siliya is living in a utopia where corruption is non-existent because she is surrounded by opulent wealth.

He was reacting to the Petauke Central PF member of parliament’s remarks where she urged Zambians to avoid dampening the entrepreneurial spirits of parliamentarians with corruption allegations as most came from a business background.

In an interview, Mucheleka, however, said that Siliya was living in a utopia where corruption to her was non-existent because she was surrounded by opulent wealth.

He insisted that corruption remained rampant in the country and that what was missing was the political will to fight it.

“We have seen ministers who, just a few years ago were literally moving with patapatas (informal: slippers), with blue overalls without any known business undertaking whatsoever. Today, they are moving with huge sums of money in ukwa bags, donating everywhere. We have seen ministers buying helicopters! Someone running just a small lodge in Kitwe or on the Copperbelt, today claiming they are in business and they have made so much money such that they can even buy helicopters? Under this economy which is under severe distress and you want to say there is no corruption? What is not there is political will to fight corruption, after all, somebody said ‘ubomba mwibala, alya mwibala’ and it has been free for all. Why do you even have to debate, the evidence is there. We are talking about individuals, especially politicians in the PF, who have never even had not a small backyard chicken-run, today, they are stinking rich. At the same time you will see that whilst everyone is complaining about the severe consequences of a rundown economy, high cost of living, people can’t afford to even have a single meal,” Mucheleka said.

“Those who are living well are only those who are in PF or are connected to PF. Today somebody is saying, ‘the economy is doing so well,’ are we in the same country? Do they live in Zambia? Because of this ill-gotten wealth and they think that everyone else is in the same shoes or everyone else has the money that is why everyone else has the money. That is why, today, in your edition someone is claiming that, ‘teachers, police officers, each one of them has four cars,’ how can you insult people like that? So, really, that Minister (Siliya) who was saying that is completely living in a land of utopia! When they wake up and they are basking in wealth, money, they think that is the case with everyone else. The majority of our people everywhere, the public sector workers and council workers have gone for months on-end without getting their salaries.”

Mucheleka, the former Lubansenshi Independent lawmaker, added that levels of corruption had deepened under the PF and that the Auditor General’s and the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) reports provided sufficient evidence.

“If you want to know the levels of corruption, how corruption has deepened under this PF government, where I come from, my training as a rural development economist, anthropologist, we talk about evidence-based information so that you are not called to be a liar. Where is the evidence to show you that there is so much corruption in this country, just go and look at the Auditor General’s report, how many people have been cited, mentioned? So many of them, some of them are ministers and no action has been taken against those people. Even with recommendations from the Public Accounts Committee to the Secretary to the Treasury, no serious action has been taken against those individuals, who have been named in cases of corruption. Cases of theft, misapplication of funds, misappropriation of funds, stealing of funds, no one has been held to account. Over the years, the Financial Intelligence Centre (trends) report has all the evidence of how money has been moving and who has even moved the money, details are there,” Mucheleka said.

He wondered where people were now getting huge stacks of cash disguised as the Presidential Empowerment Fund.

“The other day we saw someone donating 500 bicycles in chief Chikanta just to mention as an example; it is happening everywhere across the country, where has the money come from for someone to become ‘Father Christmas?’ Today, someone is talking about the Presidential Empowerment Fund, is that not corruption? Where is this money coming from? What is the source of that money because it is not in the budget,” said Mucheleka.