THE Post Newspaper and its owner Fred M’membe have been inciting and goading the police to arrest them to attract sympathy from the international community and Zambia’s development partners, former Alliance for Better Zambia (ABZ) president Fr. Frank Bwalya has charged.
He was commenting on reports that police have summoned Post Newspapers proprietor Fred M’membe along with two reporters, Kombe Mataka and Mukosha Funga, over an undisclosed article that was published by the newspaper.
Fr Bwalya said it was intentional for the Post to publish classified Government information, to provoke a Government to demonise President Edgar Lungu as a leader bent on muzzling the press and killing the spirit of transparency and accountability in Government operations.
Fr Bwalya said if the Post Newspaper and Mr M’membe meant well in protecting public interest and exposing Government wrongdoing, they would not have rushed to publish the alleged concealing of the US$192 million loan.
He said Mr M’membe and his newspaper would have followed procedure of accessing the information but rushed to publish the story because they were motivated by malice to expose President Lungu’s Government to ridicule while gaining “sanctimonious” praises for courage in the donor community.
Fr Bwalya said some of Zambia’s development partners would fall for the ruse and condemn Government which was a victim of theft and unethical conduct.
Fr Bwalya, who is now a Patriotic Front (PF) member, said the continued publication of classified Government information was a scheme to weaken the PF Government for alleged reckless borrowing.
It was his prayer that Zambia’s development partners were not going to turn a blind eye to the country’s laws because Mr M’membe and his newspaper were scheming to weaken President Lungu’s Government.
He explained that the Post cleverly married their story to comments by United Party for National Development (UPND) member Peter Mumba and Charles Milupi of the ADD. Fr Bwalya said the idea of publishing the story was to insinuate that that the PF Government was allegedly concealing the contraction of the US$192 million so that Zambians could begin to think that their motive was against public interest.
“The effort to undermine the PF Government and President Lungu will continue if relevant law enforcement agencies turn a blind eye to the Post Newspaper’s impunity. It is therefore our prayer that the international community and all concerned stakeholders will see the illegal and unethical conduct of the Post. We call on the police to handle the case in a highly professional manner to avoid being accused of being used to fix media houses that are critical of Government policy and operations in general,” Fr Bwalya said.
And Police spokesperson Charity Munganga Chanda yesterday confirmed that Mr M’membe and his two reporters had been summoned to Woodlands police for interviews today.
Ms Munganga Chanda could however not state the reason why Mr M’membe and the two journalists have been summoned.
She said police in Lusaka have launched investigations into the illegal conduct of Government officials who were leaking both Government and State House documents and information to a particular media house.
“We have commenced investigations in matters relating to leaking information and Government documents to the public without authorisation. Anyone found wanting will be dealt with according to the laws of Zambia,” Ms. Munganga Chanda warned.