Govt secrets stolen

STOLEN secret Government documents and recordings are currently circulating among a group of individuals planning to blackmail government ministers and some senior Patriotic Front (PF) officials.

The stolen secret documents would also be used to sabotage government and PF secretary general Edgar Lungu has asked the Zambia Police and other State security wings to take an interest into the continued secret recordings of Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda’s private conversations by the Post Newspaper.

And opposition People’s Party (PP) president Mike Mulongoti has appealed to the authorities to immediately stamp out the habit of individuals and media houses violating constitutional rights of citizens.

The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has condemned the secret recording of private conversations Finance Minister Alexander has been having at his residence and office stating that the Post had violated the constitutional rights to privacy.

Mr Lungu said it was illegal for the Post Newspaper to invade Mr Chikwanda’s privacy and that time would soon come when they would be made accountable for their illegal acts.

Mr Lungu said it was the duty of the police and other State security wings to protect ministers and other citizens from criminal acts such as recording their private conversations and using them to blackmail citizens.

He said any illegal act had consequences and that those deliberately breaching the law with the sole purpose to scandalize citizens should be made to face the wrath of the law.

Mr Lungu said he was reluctant to comment on the Post Newspaper publication of illegally recorded conversations and hoped that government spokesperson Joseph Katema would issue a comprehensive statement on the mater.

“Any illegal act has consequences and those who have continued to commit such criminal acts will face the law. The law enforcement agencies must take an interest in this and they have a duty to protect us (ministers) and any other citizen. I do not want to make a comment and I hope the Minister of Information is going to issue a statement on this matter,” Mr Lungu said.

The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has said the secret recording of Mr Chikwanda’s private conversations and publishing them was a violation of the constitutional right to privacy and that the Finance minister was at liberty to seek legal redress.

On Friday, the Post published a story alleging that Chinese contractors were corrupt, quoting Mr Chikwanda in a secret recording in his office.

And Mr Mulongoti said it was a criminal offence for unauthorized people to be in possession of secret government documents and that such people should know that there was a limit to which one could act with impunity.

He said stealing government secrets with the motive of blackmailing government officials was not only against the law but was putting the security and stability of the country at risk.

Mr Mulongoti said government documents were protected because they carried secret information and that those who would be found with them without authority must be made to explain how they accessed such classified matter.

He said causing to publish classified government documents amounted to a criminal offence and that the Patriotic Front (PF) government should take action against individuals and institutions with a propensity to violate the rights of citizens.

He wondered what motive the individuals circulating secret government documents had stating that it was not correct to disadvantage government by blackmailing citizens.

Mr Mulongoti said there was a limit to what people could be allowed to do things their own way adding that it was not acceptable for people to deliberately refuse to respect the law.

The People’s Party leader said that government should be worried with the continued secret recordings which were being published without the consent of the sources.

“Government documents are protected because they carry secret information. It is therefore a criminal offence to steal such classified documents and begin circulating them. What is the motive of circulating secret government documents? Is it to disadvantage government? The authorities must stamp out this habit of stealing government documents and recording private conversations and publishing them without the authority of the owners. There is a limit to which one can do things and you cannot just continue breaking the law without facing the consequences,” Mr Mulongoti said.

Mr Mulongoti said it was worrying that politically unscrupulous individuals were recording citizens’ private conversations and circulating government documents while the law enforcement agencies were looking on with folded arms.