POST Newspaper owner Fred M’membe could face between 15 and 25 years imprisonment for having breached the State Security Act when he caused the publication of a story from a classified Government letter written by Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) director Rosewin Wandi to President Edgar Lungu over alleged investigations against Kaizer Zulu, the presidential aide for political affairs.
But Mr M’membe yesterday walked away from Woodlands Police station with a warn and caution statement and is only likely to return to Woodlands Police station within the next 14 days.
Ms Wandi wrote a letter to President Lungu informing him about the investigations against Zulu on allegations that he solicited for a US$200 000 bribe from a Chinese national to fix an appointment for him with the Head of State.
Police deputy spokesperson Rae Hammoonga told journalists that there could have been a breach of article 35 of the State Security Act by Mr M’membe for causing the publication of a classified Government document and that the police had launched investigations into the matter.
Mr M’membe along with his two reporters, Mukosha Funga and Kombe Mataka, arrived at Woodlands police station at exactly 09:00 hours and were immediately ushered into the interrogating room.
Donning his traditional cap, a blue and white-spotted shirt, blue jeans and blue canvas shoes, Mr M’membe looked calm but jovial as he was led to the interrogating room accompanied by his lawyers, Nchima Nchito, brother to suspended Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito, Fainod Mufwafwi and Philemon Songolo.
Mr M’membe who was summoned by the police on Monday presented himself before the police expecting to be questioned over the revelations that Cabinet had approved a loan of US$192 million loan from China which loan was allegedly concealed but was instead quizzed on a letter from ACC to President Lungu which was leaked to his newspaper, the Post.
Mr M’membe and his reporter Funga were questioned over a story published on 17th April, 2015 under the headline: Lungu’s aide under $200 000 bribe probe which story was quoting a classified letter ACC director Rosewin Wandi had written to President Lungu.
In the story, it was stated that the ACC had commenced investigations against Mr Kaizer Zulu, the special assistant to the President for political affairs for allegedly soliciting a bribe from a Chinese national in order to fix an appointment for him with President Lungu.
Mr Hammonga told journalists that police had recorded a warn and caution statement from Mr M’membe and journalist Funga over the publication of the story but could not caution Mataka because she was pregnant.
Mr Hamoonga said the police have instituted investigations into how a classified letter from the ACC to President Lungu was leaked to the Post Newspaper and that as soon as the investigations were concluded, necessary action would be taken.
“We have recorded a warn and caution statement from Mr M’membe and Ms Funga under the State Security Act which falls under section 35 of the Penal Code. The warn and caution relates to the publication of a story headlined ‘‘Lungu’s aide under $200 000 bribe probe’’ based on a leaked letter from the ACC to President Lungu.
We have not recorded a warn and caution statement from Kombe Mataka because she is not well.
Publication of classified information is a breach of the State Security Act under the current law and we have therefore instituted investigations into the matter,” Mr Hamoonga said.
Mr Hamoonga said police were not dealing with the publication of a story by the Post Newspaper revealing that Government had contracted a $192 million from China which was allegedly concealed from Zambians.
Mr Hamoonga said if the two would be found to have breached the State Security Act, a necessary charge of being in possession of classified documents would be slapped on the duo.
One of Mr M’membe’s lawyers, Songolo said the police had taken a statement from the Post Newspaper owner and that he was likely to be recalled by the police in the next 14 days.