Zambia infrastructure minister arrested on corruption charge

LUSAKA (Reuters) - Zambia’s infrastructure and housing minister has been charged with concealing property believed to have been bought with the proceeds of crime, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) said.

The ACC arrested Ronald Chitotela on Tuesday and released him on bail pending a court hearing. Chitotela did not immediately respond the Reuters’ attempts to contact him for comment.

The main opposition party has often accused President Edgar Lungu’s government of corruption. Chitotela, 47, is the first cabinet minister to be arrested on suspicion of graft since Lungu’s re-election in 2016.

Transparency International Zambia welcomed Chitotela’s arrest.

“We wish to use this occasion to encourage the ACC and all other law enforcement agencies to do their work without any fear or favor,” the anti-corruption campaign group said in a statement.

ACC Assistant Public Relations Manager Dorothy Mwanza said Chitotela had been charged on two counts of concealing property acquired in an upscale residential area in the capital, bought with the proceeds of crime and registered in the name of another person. She gave no further details.

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

Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by Robin Pomeroy