PRESS STATEMENT BY ZAMBIA’S SIXTH PRESIDENT, MR EDGAR CHAGWA LUNGU, ON PRESIDENT HAKAINDE HICHILEMA’S HANDLING OF FORMER FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER, STANLEY KAKUBO’S CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS, 27TH DECEMBER 2023 AT LUSAKA.
I am compelled to comment on Mr. Hakainde Hichilema’s continued shielding of his ministers and other senior government officials from corruption allegations while at the same time proclaiming that there will be no sacred cows in his fight against corruption.
Very serious allegations of corruption have been revealed against Kakubo whom he merely thanked for resigning his position after the allegations were made public.
Last year in April when Kakubo was first accused of corruption, Mr Hichilema – and not the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) – was the one who declared him innocent.
Zambians should question and denounce these continued double standards by Mr. Hichilema in the fight against corruption. For Mr. Hichilema, all former government officials and other opposition leaders are guilty until proven innocent while his ministers and other government officials are innocent until proven guilty.
What message is Mr. Hichilema sending to the Law Enforcement Agencies when he is the first one to defend his ministers accused of corruption? Mr Kakubo’s conduct, in his latest accusation, definitely raises more questions than answers. Instead of commenting on the allegations, or at least inviting the Law Enforcement Agencies to take interest in the matter, Mr Hichilema only heaped praises on Kakubo as a diligent government worker and leader who should continue working hard in his new role as a backbencher. How can a worker and leader who is always accused of corruption be described as diligent?
I am not implying that Kakubo is guilty. All I am saying is that if there are no sacred cows in Mr. Hichilema’s fight against corruption, Kakubo should be investigated and, if need be, be prosecuted and declared innocent or guilty by the due process of the law, not by Mr. Hichilema.
The first time Kakubo was accused of receiving huge bribes in envelopes from some Chinese businessmen and Mr. Hichilema was under pressure from the public to fire Kakubo, his response was that he had asked Kakubo for an explanation who explained that he only received a calender and not money. As Mr. Hichilema publicly exonerated Kakubo, he set the ACC on former ministers Bowman Lusambo and Ronald Chitotela whom he declared guilty of being in possession of property believed to have been obtained through proceeds of crime.
These are the double standards I am talking about. For Mr. Hichilema, all the former leaders are thieves who should be punished by the law. He has even directed the courts of law to try such leaders within five months so they can quickly be sent to prison. We are watching the space! Double standards.
But when the current ministers of Finance and Housing and Infrastructure were recently accused of some wrongdoing, Mr Hichilema was the first to defend the ministers and, in fact, asked them to sue their accuser. This behaviour by Mr Hichilema only serves to put the investigative wings and the courts in an awkward position.
When Mr Hichilema first exonerated Kakubo, the ACC were dead silent about it. This time when Mr Hichilema has let go of Kakubo after the latest corruption allegation, the ACC were quick to say they have taken interest in the matter and will pursue it.
Other ministers in the energy and health sectors have been accused of serious corruption and other malpractices but Mr Hichilema is mute in the midst of these allegations. This is surprising and shameful for a man who said he would not tolerate corruption from anybody. He failed even to seize the Kakubo incident to generally admonish his ministers and other government officials against engaging themselves in opaque transactions.
Zambians should now understand why the government is prosecuting the Airport Gold Scandal in camera. They don’t want the public to know how those close to the corridors of power are involved in this scandal.
So, Zambians should know that the so-called fight against corruption by Mr Hichilema is a sham. It is a smokescreen to persecute his perceived opponents and enemies while shielding his offending allies from facing law.
This must be condemned because the real fight against corruption has no eyes, it does not choose depending on one’s proximity, or the lack of it, to the corridors of power.