CRIMINAL investigations have been commenced against the Post Newspaper for being in possession of President Edgar Lungu’s speech to the 5th session of the 11th National Assembly which was a classified Government document untill delivery.
State House has charged that it was criminal for the Post Newspaper to have been in possession of the presidential speech two days before the President could deliver it to the nation.
Special assistant to the President for Press and public relations Amos Chanda told the Daily Nation that although the Post version of the presidential speech was not the final document, it was a breach of the law for the newspaper to have gained access to it and cause its publication.
Mr Chanda told the Daily Nation that the President’s inaugural speech to the National Assembly could have been shipped to the Post Newspaper by public workers either at State House or from Cabinet Office.
Mr Chanda ruled out Government Printers as the institution that could have leaked the President’s speech to the Post, stating that he had personally camped in the Government Printing Department and closely supervised and monitored the printing of the speech.
He said the State was going to investigate public officers and the Post Newspaper to establish how a classified Government document could have landed in the hands of a media house before it could be delivered.
Mr Chanda told the Daily Nation that Post Newspaper owner Fred M’membe had a strange desire to commit crime in the spirit of self-induced martyrdom so that Zambians could see him as a victim of political persecution was well known as the act had been used before.
He said Mr M’membe was flagrantly tempting the State to take the law to his door step so that he could be arrested to gain unwarranted public sympathy.
The Post newspaper on Friday published part of President Lungu’s speech particularly where the Head of State had decided to reorganize and realign ministries for smooth administration.
“Let me inform you that criminal investigations have been commenced against the Post newspaper for being in possession of a classified Government document which is President Lungu’s speech to the 5th session of the 11th National Assembly. We are going to investigate the public officers in Government and the Post Newspaper because we know there is a desire by the newspaper to induce self-martyrdom. It is criminal for the Post to have gained access to the President’s speech (which was embargoed until Friday 10:00 hours) and we will have to find out how that happened. We know that the version of the speech they got was not the final one but nevertheless, they were not supposed to have the document or cause its publication,” Mr Chanda said.
Mr Chanda said it was his suspicion that the President’s speech could have been leaked to the Post newspaper two days before its release and that was why part of what was published in the newspaper was not accurate.
Mr Chanda said State House was happy that President Lungu’s speech had received both local and international accolades and appealed to Zambians to ignore the propaganda that was being manufactured by the Post.
He disclosed that a number of diplomats accredited to Zambia had hailed President Lungu’s comprehensive national address because the speech had boldly addressed most of the challenging and daunting issues facing the country.
He however said although State House was going to ignore the nihilistic malice against President Lungu from the Post newspaper, that did not mean that criminal activities would not be investigated, warning that should there be evidence that the document was stolen and leaked to the newspaper, the police would move in.