Thursday, March 27, 2014

TIZ praises Sata
By Roy Habaalu
Tue 17 Dec. 2013, 14:01 CAT

TRANSPARENCY International Zambia has praised President Michael Sata saying the head of state has shown that he has no selective justice and that he can act against members of the Patriotic Front.

President Sata yesterday during a caucus meeting with Cabinet ministers and Patriotic Front members of parliament at State House dropped Ronald Chitotela and Rogers Mwewa after Auditor General Anna Chifungula cited them in the irregular purchase of "written-off vehicles" as ambulances for their respective constituencies.

Meanwhile, Efron Lungu, who was fired as foreign affairs minister several months ago, took time to give tips to Chitotela on how to deal with a dismissal.

Commenting on the dismissal of the two, TIZ president Lee Habasonda said the decision sent a strong signal to all public officers that abuse and demeaning of executive offices such as that of the Auditor General was unacceptable.

He said the dropping of Chitotela and Mwewa as deputy ministers of labour and agriculture respectively shows that President Sata will not shield the corrupt.

"We called upon His Excellency the President to do the right thing and he's done it; we hope other MPs (members of parliament) occupying public offices will take a leaf from this, that there is no sacred cow in the fight against corruption. Many people have believed that there is selective justice but the President has shown that he can act against his own members of the party," Habasonda said.

Habasonda said President Sata's decision renewed the vigour in the fight against corruption.

"It's really sad that within two years of being in office, people who are supposed to be leading in the fight against corruption are in the forefront engaging in corruption. It was too early to do these kinds of things. President Sata must re-look at his team because he has some people many of whom don't share his vision to fight corruption. He must adjust his team because he has people that don't understand the fight against corruption," he said.

African Parliamentarian Network Against Corruption Zambia chapter chairperson Cornelius Mweetwa said the dismissal of the duo would give them an opportunity to clear themselves.

"As APNAC chairperson, this gives my colleagues an opportunity to clear their names without operating as though they were using their positions to influence investigations. This will make investigations clear and fair for my two colleagues," he said.

Mweetwa said comments by Chitotela and Mwewa cast aspersions of incompetence on the office of the Auditor General.

"The attacks on the Auditor General were not only out of order in terms of parliamentary etiquette but unacceptable in the fight against corruption. They used unparliamentary language and went ahead questioning the levels of stupidity of the Auditor General, who is an appointee of the President," said Mweetwa.

President Sata said he would not shield anyone involved in corruption.
"I have dropped comrades (Ronald) Chitotela and (Rodgers) Mwewa because anybody who is practicing corruption means that we are not in the same direction; so until they clear themselves, they are no longer my deputy ministers," President Sata said, and Chitotela was seen shaking and shedding tears.

Later, Chitotela said he had no comment other than praising President Sata for giving him an opportunity to serve Zambians as labour deputy minister.

He pledged to remain loyal to President Sata and the Patriotic Front, adding that the head of state would continue to inspire him as his 'political idol' and also to the PF.

He said he had trust in the law enforcement agencies that they would clear his name but stated that it was not time for him to show how innocent he was.

Asked about PF cadres who on Friday demonstrated in solidarity with him, Chitotela appealed to the cadres to respect President Sata's decision to drop him.

"That is not a right course to take for the cadres to take to the streets. Let them keep calm. I appreciate their support for me and President Sata and they should continue, but it's not time to fight," Chitotela, who now sounded relaxed, said.

And Mwewa thanked President Sata for appointing him deputy minister.
"I would like to thank His Excellency the President for showing confidence in me by appointing me deputy minister. I learnt a lot and I remain loyal to him and the party," Mwewa said.

Meanwhile, President Sata urged members of parliament to speak on behalf of the people in Parliament.

He said some members of parliament would return to Parliament in 2016.

"…and what you must bear in mind is that 2016 is not very far away. Me I have reached the top but you, some of you will be one-term MPs. Go back to the people, go and tell them what the government is doing. If you can't go back to the people, speak in Parliament and you've the media and if you don't speak, the media won't follow you. That's why I called you here," President Sata said.

And in apparent reference to Kabwata member of parliament Given Lubinda, President Sata said he was not working in his constituency.
"There is an MP in my constituency who has not gone even to Lilayi. Don't worry, some of you I'll come for you. You Given, go to Kamulanga and see the people," President Sata said.

During a question and answer session mostly from members of parliament, President Sata ordered justice minister Wynter Kabimba and his defence counterpart Geoffrey Mwamba to go and campaign in Vubwi together.
"Where is the rivalry because the two are looking at each other? Go back and dispel rumours of divisions in constituencies; both are ministers and the party is intact," responded President Sata to Kaputa member of parliament Maxus Ngonga, who wanted to know if there were camps in the party.

Chungu Bwalya (Lupososhi member of parliament): Your Excellency, you've the key to stop these demonstrations in the party.

President Sata: "Where there are demonstrations, it means the party is alive. If you are not telling people what you're doing, they will demonstrate. Demonstrations are an eye-opener. Even Dr (Joseph) Katema needs to be demonstrated against because there are no welfare schools. People will demonstrate against what you've not done."

Edgar Lungu (home affairs minister): "Sir, I would like to assure you that there will be no more use of pangas (machetes)."
Esther Banda: Those being suspended…
President Sata interjects: "If your colleague demonstrates against you, I'll suspend her. If you find something wrong against your friend, you must complain to me; that's why I suspended Elizabeth Phiri."
After the caucus, Efron Lungu joined other deputy ministers in encouraging Chitotela to be strong following his dismissal.
Lungu held Chitotela's hand and pulled him aside, where he tipped him on how to deal with his dismissal.

"Be strong, you will clear yourself soon... Let me tell you what to do when something like this happens; you know, people expect you to be annoyed and say many things, but just be humble. Don't even switch off your phone; answer it and say that you have no comment," he said as reporters approached the duo to solicit a comment.

"No, don't answer them," Lungu advised Chitotela. "They will misunderstand you."

At this point Chitotela looked down and told the reporters that he did not want to say anything about his dismissal.

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