Immigration officers yesterday stopped Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya from traveling with her boyfriend Mark Mubalama to Angola.
And Mubalama appeared for questioning today at immigration offices despite his nationality dispute having been settled in the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court.
A Zambia National Airports official, who sought anonymity, disclosed that Mubalama and Siliya checked-in at the airport on Tuesday for a trip to Angola but that immigration officers confronted the Minister and confiscated her boyfriend’s Zambian passport.
“The incident happened yesterday afternoon as the President (Edgar Lungu) was on the [airport] tarmac welcoming Ethiopian Prime Minister [Hailemariam Desalegn]. When Honourable Siliya arrived [at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport] with the same Mark, some police and immigration officers came from where the President was and stopped them. They told Mark to show them his passport. The minister was very shocked but she told him to show them,” the source narrated.
“After he produced the Zambian passport, the officers took it and got him outside where he was surrounded by a group of police officers. They were even laughing at the minister saying ‘instructions from the top’. Dora just stood there and she was so embarrassed because other passengers were watching.”
The sources narrated that at that point, Siliya arranged a lawyer who got Mubalama out of where he was detained for questioning.
“So after the lawyer spoke to the immigration guys, they released him but held on to the passport. They also told him to report to immigration this morning. What was so embarrassing was that the President was here at the airport when this happened and the officers came from his entourage to work with our immigration here to stop him from flying out,” said the source.
“But Dora herself was allowed to leave, so it was just embarrassing for her that she ended up travelling alone while the boyfriend remained detained. She is in Angola as we speak, but we don’t know whether it’s official duty or private.”
According to immigration sources, Mubalama took himself for questioning at 09:00 hours today.
“He was questioned over the same nationality issue. He came at 09:00 hours and he was told that there is need to interview his relatives again. So a team will go to interview his grandparents in Ndola since he said his mother died. He said his mother’s name is Grace Bweupe. He also named one of his living parents as Maureen Bweupe who lives in America. So the issue is probably his father. Although he can be Zambian by the fact that his mother is Zambian, there are issues surrounding the information that he used to obtain a Zambian passport,” the immigration source explained.
“He also said that Chief Mushili is his grandparent, so the team will go, probably with him to Ndola to talk to those relatives.”
“The court a entered a nolle, what that means is that the matter can be revived at any point if more evidence against the accused has been found,” said the source.
When contact via WhatsApp for a comment, Siliya responded with a photo of herself in Angola with a caption: “Just finished a courtesy call on the Minister of Agriculture of Angola. Angola wishes a to learn how we have developed the seed industry in Zambia which exports over 300,000mt in Africa. We are here to visit an Israeli farming project which produces vegetables and cereals for exports through outgrowth schemes”.