Health Minister Dr. Chitalu Chilufya is currently self-quarantining after testing positive for coronavirus. However, the timing of his diagnosis has sparked rumours that the Minister has somehow engineered the result to try avoid and arrest by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), which is investigating him in relation to alleged possession of property reasonably suspected to be the proceeds of crime.
The ACC earlier this week confirmed that they have conducted interviews with Dr. Chilufya and recorded a warn and caution statement. According to News Diggers sources at the ACC have also revealed that the organization is investigating the Minister’s connections to a single sourced government contract awarded to Lilypeck International of Dubai by the Ministry of Health.
The developments have also fuelled rumours of a breakdown in the relationship between President Lungu and his Health Minister, who was said to have been favoured as a potential running mate in the 2021 elections or even as a successor to the President should he not be in contention. Concerns regarding the Minister’s growing popularity are among the reasons rumoured be behind the alleged deterioration in relations.
Meanwhile, Transparency International Zambia (TI-Z) has called for the minister to stand aside while investigations continue.
“Dr. Chilufya presently plays a sensitive role in the multisectoral response to Covid-19 and such allegations will be an unnecessary distraction. We know that in the recent past, President Lungu, for reasons he alone can explain has failed to act against Ministers facing such allegations, but we still call on him to ask Hon Dr Chitalu to step aside in order to facilitate a smooth investigation into his case,” TI-Z President Rueben Lifuka has stated.
Lifuka noted that such a move would be “in conformity with standard practice where public servants that are being investigated have stepped aside to allow for investigations to be carried out independently and without any potential undue influence.”
“It has always been our considered view that the ACC is given the independence and latitude to discharge its mandate professionally and therefore this decision needs the support of all Zambians. This is just the first steps in the process and we are cautiously optimistic that the ACC has done its work and ready to move to the next stage and hopefully bring this matter before the courts of law at the earliest opportunity,” he stated.