And Siliya says the arrest of Minister of Infrastructure Development Ronald Chitotela is proof that President Edgar Lungu’s commitment towards the fight against corruption is not merely political.
At a press briefing, Wednesday, Siliya said government wanted to establish whether Dr Scott used his authority as acting president to obtain the death certificate.
Siliya said former top government officials were bound by the oath of secrecy.
“It has come to our attention as government that in a book published by former Vice Republican President Dr Guy Scott, there is publication of a copy of the death certificate of the late President of Zambia Mr Micheal Chilufya Sata. Clearly, this is a very sensitive issue, we have seen that the late President’ son Mr Mulenga Sata has reacted I think negatively towards this matter and I think as government, through Cabinet office, we are quite interested to establish what actually happened. Did Dr Scott come into possession of this document by virtue of him having acted as President and once that came to an end, that he took this copy without the authority, or is it that somebody in the family actually availed it to him when he was publishing this book? Because clearly one of the sons, Mr Mulenga Sata has been incensed with this. We also know that as government officials, once we leave office, our oath of secrecy does not end immediately, I think there is over 25 years bound by that secrecy,” Siliya said.
“And a death certificate is a family matter and is not something that anybody would want to be published out there unless truly, there was consent by the person involved or the family. So we want to find out what really happened. You will recall what happened that there was a book that was published about former South African President Nelson Mandela, and it was withdrawn because the public in South Africa felt that it was insensitive to the last few days to the last few days of the late President in terms of cultural issues, family issues. So we don’t know if this is the case also in this matter, but as government, through cabinet office, I think that they are making an investigation so we can establish whether the former Vice-President took this unlawfully, having served as President at that time, whether someone else in the family did give him without consulting the rest of the family, were they the right person or that it was done behind the family’s back and the back of the government and the Zambian people.”
And Siliya said Chitotela’s arrest was proof of President Lungu’s commitment to the fight against corruption.
“I think President Lungu has reiterated this fact many times, it’s just that doom sayers will always be there. The people of Zambia have been saying let’s have institutions that speak to these issues such as corruption and I think the Anti-Corruption Commission is one of them. The ACC continues to do its work but sometimes when they don’t find anything, the media does not report that they did not find anything. The ACC works every day! They visit ministries and various government parastatals every day to inquire, and it’s not always that they would find something related to corruption. And even when there is an arrest, the due process takes its course that one is innocent until proven guilty,” Siliya said.
“But I think this should give us confidence in our institutions. I was speaking to SABC in South Africa last week that we as Africans are the champions in bad mouthing ourselves and not having confidence in our own institutions. They do work and maybe this is one of the cases to demonstrate that they have been working and they are working. So to me I think this speaks to the point that President Lungu has been making for a long time that the fight against real corruption is real, not imaginary, and not political but real.”
Meanwhile, Siliya said she had not yet read the Human Rights Commission’s report on the Vespers Shimunzhila’s death.
Siliya also said government was not considering taking up the $700million offer by First Quantum Minerals to buy off its 20% shares in Kansanshi mining Plc through ZCCM-IH, as the mining firm had not officially approached government on the issue.
“Our positon is very clear that as far as I am concerned as government spokesperson, I have not seen this matter anywhere in cabinet. If FQM on their own are making these offers to government through the Newspaper or through whichever other format, government has not considered this matter at all because it has not come to cabinet and I just read it in the Paper as well. And as government spokesperson I would really say until it reaches government though cabinet, I cannot communicate to you about it. I don’t believe that government is at the moment considering this offer,” said Siliya.