VICE President Inonge Wina has warned The Post Newspaper that it is not free from prosecution if found wanting for breaching the State Security Act in accordance with its provisions.
And Ms Wina yesterday told Parliament that Government would deal with sternly with public officers and those in a habit of fishing highly classified information.
Ms Wina said Government security and investigative wings had instituted investigations into the leakage of the Presidential speech to The Post Newspaper on the official opening of the fifth session of the 11th National Assembly.
This follows a point of order raised by Chadiza Member of Parliament Allan Mbewe on September 22, 2015 who wanted to know whether Ms Wina was in order to keep quiet over the leaked Presidential speech to the Post newspaper.
In her response, Ms Wina said the outcome of the investigations would be revealed to the nation in due course.
“I will, therefore, not divulge any further details on this matter at this stage,” Ms Wina said.
She however said the actions of those who were in the habit of shipping classified information to unauthorized parties would not be taken lightly, adding that serious remedial action would be taken against erring officers.
“I am also serving notice to the recipient of such information that they too are not free from being prosecuted if found wanting in accordance with the provisions of the State Security Act,” she said.
Ms Wina reminded public officers that there was need for them to abide by the provisions of the declaration of security that they signed when joining the public service.
“Mr. Speaker, the question of leakage of classified information in Government institution is of grave concern and a really saddening situation.
‘‘ You may wish to note that the public officers in the ministries, provinces and other spending agencies shoulder heavy responsibility for the welfare of the people of Zambia by helping to maintain the security of the nation.
‘‘This is done by, among other things, the safe custody of all information and documents relating to Government operations, negotiations and decisions,” Ms Wina said.
She said public officers were bound by the provisions of the security instructions document, which set out the guidelines to be observed and the practical steps which must be taken by public officers to ensure that classified information was not disclosed to unauthorized persons.
Ms Wina said the State Security Act, which was imbedded within the Security Instructions document, was an important piece of legislation on issues of national security.
She said the Act stated that it was the duty of permanent secretaries and chief executives to ensure that the contents of the State Security Act were brought to the attention of all public officers under their charge.
“There is actually a declaration of secrecy form in the Act which requires all public officers on first appointment and officers having access to highly classified documents to sign the said declaration,” Ms Wina said.
She further said that it was regrettable that there were some officers who were not adhering to these standard operational guidelines regulating to the flow of information.
“This non-adherence to guidelines could explain the leakage of classified information to unauthorized parties. The leakage of the Presidential speech on the official opening of the fifth session of the 11th National Assembly is a very unfortunate occurrence,” Ms Wina said.