Nearly a month after his arrest, Zambian health minister Chitalu Chilufya appeared before a Lusaka magistrate, where he pleaded not guilty to four counts of corruption. Chilufya, who was appointed as health minister in 2016 by President Edgar Lungu, is accused of using funds suspected to be the proceeds of criminal activity to buy business shares, property, and a speedboat from the United Arab Emirates between 2016 and 2018.
Zambia opposition parties have called for Chilufya’s removal while the case was in court, whereas members of the ruling Patriotic Front party have rallied around the health minister, with some even accusing the opposition of using the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission to attack the presidency. Chilufya’s case highlights Zambia’s ongoing struggles to fight corruption, a key pillar of Lungu’s successful 2016 presidential campaign.
Graft and cronyism have become much more common
The Southern African nation, heavily dependent on its mining industry, has incurred a debt-to-GDP ratio of more than 60 percent, as it still has high-interest Eurobonds to pay off on top of Chinese-sourced loans for mega infrastructure projects. Graft and cronyism have become much more common at the local as well as federal levels of government.