Zambia Infrastructure minister in court on graft charges

Thursday February 14 2019

Ronald Chitotela

Zambia’s Housing and Infrastructure Minister Ronald Chitotela. He is accused of corruption. PHOTO | RONALD CHITOTELA | FACEBOOK  

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Zambia’s Housing and Infrastructure Minister, Mr Ronald Chitotela, was Thursday arraigned at the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court on allegations of corruption.

Mr Chitotela is accused of concealing two properties believed to have been bought with the proceeds of crime.

He was charged alongside Gregory Chibanga, Diris Mukange and Bruth Holding Limited.

However, the suspects did not enter plea as one of the accused, Bruth Holding, was not presented in court.

They were charged with two counts of concealing plots of land in Lusaka’s upmarket Makeni and Ibex Hill, bought with proceeds of crime, and registering the properties in the name of Mr Mukange.

Mr Chitotela was arrested on February 5 by the Anti-Corruption Commission and released on bail pending court hearing.


'Not guilty'

Pressure to fire the minister has been mounting on President Edgar Lungu, who has defended him saying he should be presumed innocent until proven otherwise.

Defence lawyer Jonas Zimba made similar statements saying calls to suspend his client from office made him look guilty whereas he had not been found culpable.

Observers say President Lungu is seeking to repair his government's image that is largely viewed as having a soft approach to graft.

However, critics cast doubt if any top officials could be successfully prosecuted.

If convicted, Mr Chitotela faces a penalty of up to 5 years in prison.

The court adjourned hearing to February 19.