Wednesday, June 02, 2010
By Patson Chilemba
Tue 01 June 2010, 04:30 CAT
It is inhuman to continue attacking Katele Kalumba over his conviction on corruption charges, pleaded Mike Mulongoti yesterday.
Asked to comment on the calls for convicted MMD national secretary Kalumba to step aside from political activities now that he was a convict, works and supply minister Mulongoti - in an interview - said Kalumba was not the first one to have made a mistake.
“When your member is in difficulty, you don’t finish him off. That is not right. Human nature says when your friend is down, you have to help him up,” Mulongoti said.
“It’s inhuman to attack your friend when he is down. He is not the only one who has made a mistake. I do not want to judge him on the basis of a conviction. He has got his own strong points. MMD is a big party. It has got thousands of members. Is it going to be judged on account of one person? Are you saying the other parties have got angels?”
Mulongoti said there was no need to continue discussing Kalumba’s conviction because it was now stale.
“It is an issue that is almost stale now. When judgment is passed, is there going to be another judgment tomorrow? It is no longer news,” Mulongoti said.
“We are a big party. We are sad to lose the national secretary if that is what it amounts to, but NEC will have to sit down and decide on this Kalumba’s stay in office. So don’t take your spears…don’t spend time convicting him because everyday you are writing about him, you are convicting him also.”
And a national executive committee (NEC) member Sebastian Kopulande said the matter involving Kalumba would obviously go before NEC. He said the issue should be given due process.
“We all know he has been convicted. I am sure he knows what he needs to do. You can say he has remained in office, yes. I will tell you that that is what judges said. I have not convicted him. The judges convicted him. We respect what the judges said…obviously it will come to NEC,” said Kopulande.
Last Wednesday, Kalumba, former finance permanent secretary Stella Chibanda, defunct Access Financial Services Limited (AFSL) directors Faustin Kabwe and Aaron Chungu were handed a five-year jail sentence each for corruption at the Lusaka magistrates court.
The court also jailed former finance ministry chief economist Bede Mphande, former finance ministry director of budget Boniface Nonde and former secretary to the treasury Professor Benjamin Mweene for five years but suspended for 24 months.
However, Kalumba, Chibanda, Chungu and Kabwe were last Friday granted K500 million bail each pending appeal.