Zambian cabinet minister held on corruption charges

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Zambia’s anti-graft agency said Tuesday it had detained the country’s infrastructure minister, Ronald Chitotela, in a rare arrest of a serving minister under President Edgar Lungu’s administration.

Anti-Corruption Commission spokeswoman Dorothy Mwanza said Chitotela, 47, faced two corruption charges for allegedly concealing ownership of two properties “reasonably suspected of being proceeds of crime.”

One of the properties is in Lusaka’s upmarket suburb of Makeni, Mwanza said.

The charges carry a jail term of up to five years on conviction.

Chitotela is the first sitting minister known to have been arrested on graft charges under Lungu’s government.

Lungu became president in 2015 after the death of president Michael Sata and was reelected in 2016, but his administration has been dogged by accusations of graft.

In January 2018, foreign affairs minister Harry Kalaba resigned in protest, citing “swelling” corruption in government ranks, “perpetrated by those who are expected to be the solution.”

Chitotela was freed on bail pending a court appearance at a later date.