UPND vice-president Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba, commonly known as GBM, has said the Anti-Corruption Commission’s arrest of infrastructure and housing minister Ronald Chitotela has nothing to do with the fight against corruption but a fight against anyone ambitious enough to challenge President Edgar Lungu’s hold on the presidency.
He told a media briefing yesterday that Chitotela’s alleged corrupt activities were “well known and documented” even at the time he was being appointed into Cabinet in 2016 as he had earlier been fired by the late president Michael Sata for similar allegations in 2013.
“Late President Michael Sata fired Chitotela from his ministerial position for corruption. Even at the time of re-appointment by Edgar Lungu, it was already a well-known fact that the man was corrupt and it beat any sensible reason as to why the man was appointed to such a sensitive ministry despite his background. We take it the administration stood to benefit from his corruption. But unfortunately, the man has become too ambitious to wanting to challenge his boss through Luapula United grouping hence falling out of favor of the appointing authority,” Mwamba said.
He said the war within the Patriotic Front was becoming fierce with both Muchinga and Luapula provinces positioning themselves for either the presidency or running mate for the 2021 election, thus “making President Lungu and his associates jittery, knowing that the two groupings are too powerful to be ignored”.
“It is likely that the arrest of Chitotela was sanctioned and we expect more ambitious people, especially in his Cabinet, to arrested on ‘corruption charges’. Luapula United is very serious on its ambitions and now those in Muchinga are also positioning themselves for the challenge under the Muchinga United front. It’s war in there and Chitotela has been merely sacrificed for being too ambitious, just like NDC consultant Chishimba Kambwili was investigated and questioned by ACC for being in possession of money believed to be proceeds of crime,” Mwamba said.
He said the head of state should know that Zambians constitutionally hold the key to State House and will not allow President Lungu’s government to beyond 2021 because of corruption, which had led to poverty and hunger among Zambians.
“What I can tell the nation is that this arrest, whether genuine or a mere public relations stunt aimed at giving credence to Chitotela’s eventual dismissal, is long overdue because the whole country knows how corrupt the infrastructure minister is, coupled with his presidential ambitions. PF thrives on corruption but [President Lungu’s] ending will be bad as it will be engineered from within the PF by the same corrupt elements he appointed into government,” Dr Mwamba further said.
Chitotela, 47, has been charged with two counts of concealing property suspected of being proceeds of crime contrary to section 71 (1) of the Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime Act number 19 of 2010.
It is the same Chitotela who, in 2013, was fired by late President Michael Chilufya Sata from his ministerial position, along with his Mwansabombwe counterpart Rodgers Mwewa, after the ACC launched corruption investigations against him.
Calls have intensified for President Lungu to fire Chitotela, who has since been released on bond, to allow smooth investigations and prosecution of the matter.