PRINCE Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika says corruption has been there since independence.

Commenting on the backlash which President Hakainde Hichilema has received over his remarks that a clique of thieves had been feeding off public resources since independence, Akashambatwa said the Head of State did not mention any names and therefore, only the guilty were angered by his words.

“In the village, there are village announcers who can go round the village and start saying ‘somebody has stolen a chicken’ without naming names unless you are the guilty one. It is the same response when Levy Mwanawasa said ‘he doesn’t want corrupt people because they are dirty’ then others started second guessing that he was pointing to a particular group which was not true. And when Mr Kapwepwe was resigning, he said ‘my people are being victimized’. He did not say which people, then those who were against him said he was talking about his own ethnic people. So, it is in the same light. The comments don’t seem to suggest that he mentioned anybody, he didn’t,” said Akashambatwa.

“The reaction is nothing new; it was used three times in the past. Who says his predecessors were clean? They should answer for themselves. There is nobody who should be presumed to be clean, everybody must answer for themselves. I can even add that yes, from independence, I don’t know whether they are a clique or not but there has been corruption from independence.”

Speaking upon arrival from the United Kingdom, Saturday, President Hichilema said a clique of thieves had been feeding off public resources since independence.

“You have to be careful when you ask questions of ethnicity. First, you must start from the premise that all Zambians are entitled to jobs and we must not make an issue because that is a human right. You are entitled to be a Journalist that is why you are a journalist. Are you a tribalist because you are a journalist? You are not. That is mischief by the tribalists, the hegemonists who did not want this country to be run by anyone else other than a clique of thieves like them,” said President Hichilema.

“And I call them a clique of thieves because they have been feeding off public resources from independence and they don’t think that someone else, other people can run a country in a better way to redistribute jobs, to redistribute resources. This is what a callous mind does and it doesn’t bother me a lot at all. This country was divided in the last 10 years, Cabinet came from only four provinces, 95 percent of Cabinet came from four provinces. Today, the Cabinet comes from all 10 provinces. You should be proud of that.”

But this statement has been received with mixed feelings among netizens. While some say what the Head of State said was an understatement, others feel it was disrespectful towards all past presidents.