Phone tapping is criminal – ZICTA

TAPPING a private phone conversation is a criminal offence and perpetrators can be arrested and jailed for not less than 25 years or life, says the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA).

This was disclosed by ZICTA director for legal and regulations affairs Thomas Malama yesterday.

Last week, the Post Newspaper published a private phone conversation between Patriotic Front (PF) central committee chairman for finance Alexander Chikwanda and secretary general Davies Chama.

In their conversation, Mr Chikwanda and Mr Chama were discussing how the duo would raise funds for the party campaigns and payment for campaign adverts.

But Mr Malama, who was until yesterday acting director general for ZICTA, said it was a criminal offence to tap and publish a private conversation between two people.

He told the Daily Nation that to the best of his understanding a phone conversation between two people was private and whoever tapped and published such a conversation was liable for a criminal offence.

Mr Malama said there was no law which allowed anybody including a media organisation to publish a private phone conversation of two people regardless of their status in society.

And when asked why ZICTA had not taken action on perpetrators of phone tapping, Mr Malama said ZICTA could only take action after a complaint had been lodged before the law enforcement agency. He said ZICTA had not received any complaint or evidence that a private conversation between Mr Chikwanda and Mr Chama had been tapped. Mr Malama also explained that such matters should be started with the law enforcement agencies before ZICTA could come in.

He also said that he did not believe that mobile service providers could be behind the leaking of private phone conversations to the media.

Meanwhile, Mr Chama explained to the Daily Nation that no single ngwee from Government coffers had been diverted to the ruling Patriotic Front campaigns and some senior members of the party have dug into their pockets to fund the exercise.

Mr Chama has revealed that PF central committee member and Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda has actually been depositing his own money to the party accounts for campaigns ahead of next week’s general elections.

Mr Chama was rubbishing a phone recording published by the Post Newspaper on Saturday suggesting that Mr Chikwanda had been diverting Government resources into the party through the office of the PF secretary general.

He said those who were accusing Mr Chikwanda and himself of diverting Government resources into PF coffers for campaigns were free to visit the Office of the Auditor General for inspection as it was a public office.

Mr Chama said whenever Mr Chikwanda deposited money from his own pocket into the party account, he always called him (SG) informing him that he had deposited money into the party account.