Police in Lusaka have refused to disclose the location where they are holding New Labour Party leader Fresher Siwale who was arrested yesterday for alleging that President Edgar Lungu is not a Zambian citizen.
But his colleague, Mike Mulongoti, who spent the whole morning, Wednesday, trying to locate Siwale has insisted that President Lungu is a foreigner who does not deserve to be Head of State.
Meanwhile, All People’s Congress leader Nason Msoni says police have picked up the wrong person as they should focus their energies on probing President Lungu’s nationality.
Police searched Siwale’s house, Tuesday, before detaining him at an undisclosed station and refused to give any details of the arrest despite numerous media queries.
Mulongoti, who is People’s Party leader, arrived at Woodlands Station at exactly 10:20 hours in the company of Siwale’s relatives.
He was led to a holding cell by one of the officers on duty, hoping to see his colleague only to be informed that Siwale was not in the cell but in one of the interrogation rooms.
However, after checking all the interrogation rooms, Mulongoti was informed that Siwale was in fact at Chilenje Police Station.
Addressing journalists before proceeding to Chilenje, Mulongoti, whose office was also searched the same day, insisted that President Lungu was a foreigner.
Asked if police were still pursuing him, Mulongoti said no one was after him because he was telling the truth.
“Who is pursuing me? Nobody is pursuing me because there is no reason why they should pursue me. If one foreigner feels uncomfortable, should citizens suffer for that? No! for us, we are only asking relevant questions to our colleague that tell us who you are. You are occupying the highest office in the land which is reserved for us. I should be there, not him,” Mulongoti said at the police station.
He said Siwale’s only crime was to flash President Lungu’s real NRC on television.
“He (Lungu) challenged us to bring some evidence, Mr Siwale, the offense he committed was to flash his reg (National Registration Card) on television. That is his identity so he should not arrest people for that. What evidence was he looking for? To prove you are a Zambian you must carry your NRC. So Mr Siwale showed his NRC, now is he distancing himself from that document? The people have been asking him to answer, he is refusing. It doesn’t matter how long it will take, we are pursuing a matter that is in the interest of the public, we suspect that there is something seriously wrong. From what I have heard, the police have been very professional about it. They know that that is not their war, they are only carrying out their duties, that’s all,” he said.
Mulongoti said he had been hoping for the day to come when he would be given a platform to question President Lungu over his identity in court.
“As a Zambian, you must protect your NRC. If you lose it, you report to the police that it is missing. So to come and ask us to be responsible for keeping someone’s NRC, it is not fair. Does anybody complain that an NRC is missing? All of us, when we transact with either government offices, companies and each other, sometimes they demand for NRC copy. So you can’t ask me where I got your copy if you left it at MTN or Airtel. So the gentleman, if he has got a problem with the copy of his NRC, let him ask himself how many places has he transacted? Is he sure all those are so against us that they can’t give us copies? Let him just be patient so that he can answer those questions properly. We have been looking forward to this platform of court,” Mulongoti said.
“So Mr Siwale is here, the next alternative, he must be taken to court. And that’s the platform we want so that we can ask him questions as well in court. Outside he can use all the powers he has got but in court it will be a different platform because we all have the same rights in that court. So this NRC copy they are looking for, we are not responsible, we are not its guardians. Only your guardian can look after your NRC if you are irresponsible. But we are not his guardians, so we can’t keep his NRC.”
Mulongoti then proceeded to Chilenje Police where he was made to wait for about 30 minutes at the reception before being ushered into officer-in-charge J. Mukuka’s office.
Once there, Mukuka informed him that Siwale was not detained at that station, advising him to go and find out from Force Headquarters.
“Go back to the headquarters and ask because he is not here and we also don’t know where he is. If headquarters are saying he is here, let those same people come and point at him,” said Mukuka.
Addressing journalists after his meeting with Mukuka, Mulongoti, who had now been joined by Msoni, hoped that Siwale was in good health.
“We have been on a wild goose chase, we are told he is not here but all the same we know that he is in the hands of the police, police are one and wherever they are holding him, we are appealing to them to treat him well and fairly, he is a Zambian, he has his rights intact and they must be respected. We don’t expect anything to happen to him. He is pushing a matter that affects all of us. Because of that, we want him to be alive so that he can have his day in court,”said Mulongoti.
Meanwhile, Msoni said police had arrested a wrong person.
“Our immediate impression is that perhaps the police may have erroneously got a wrong man. Mr Siwale is a whistle blower. Mr Siwale raised a number of critical issues which we think that this should have been useful information for the police in ensuring that they arrest a correct suspect. The real suspect has not been picked, the real suspect has not been interrogated. We think that the man they have arrested is a wrong man, he is a useful witness who should be protected in this case,” said Msoni.
“Mr Lungu must come clean in this matter. He is the accused person, these allegations are too serious to try and stifle and it will only get worse and worse for as long as we try to keep the lid on it. We think that Mr Lungu is now standing on clay feet. He has a unique opportunity to address our country and allay these fears of identity. It is a missed opportunity for him to resort to such unconventional methods or schemes to try and scuffle what must come out. What must come out will definitely come out.”
And when asked about Siwale’s whereabouts, Police spokesperson Esther Mwaata Katongo said police would issue a statement at an opportune time.
When asked why Siwale had been secluded, Katongo simply replied; “We are not saying anything at the moment.”