On 14 June 2005, Lusaka police questioned Anthony Mukwita, a Radio Phoenix 'Let the People Talk' programme host, over a fax anonymously sent, which he had read on air during the 10 June edition of the programme. The fax accused the government of condoning corruption and warned that the country might slip into anarchy as a result.
Mukwita told MISA that a chief investigations officer for Lusaka Division and two detectives followed him to the MISA Zambia offices from where he operates and questioned him in connection with the fax, signed only 'Annoyed Zambians'.
'They demanded to have a copy of the fax, which cautioned the Mwanawasa administration to be responsive to the people's needs or risk throwing the country into anarchy through another attempted coup, similar to the one staged by Captain Stephen in 1997,' Mukwita told MISA Zambia.
Mukwita said the police wanted him to give a statement but he refused, insisting that he would only do so in the presence of his lawyer. The interview was done in the presence of MISA Zambia's chairperson, Kellys Kaunda.
In a related development, Radio Phoenix has terminated Mukwita's contract as of 16 June, citing his decision to read the controversial fax on the 'Let the People Talk' programme, among other reasons.
In a 15 June statement, Kaunda condemned the police action saying it was part of a grand scheme to silence the 'Let The People Talk' forum, the only platform available to the Zambian people to air their views freely.
Mukwita will be questioned again in the presence of a lawyer at the MISA Zambia secretariat on 16 June.
The fax was sparked off by a Radio Phoenix programme which broadcast a discussion of the state's 17 May decision to not proceed with its case against former health permanent secretary Kashiwa Bulaya. Bulaya was being prosecuted for alleged abuse of office involving the allocation of K3 billion Kwacha (approx. US$640,000) for the government purchase of anti-retroviral drugs from a Bulgarian company in which he allegedly has financial interests.
The state's decision had resulted in Bulaya's discharge, which was met by sharp criticism from "The Post" newspaper and other quarters.
On 14 June, Justice Minister George Kunda instructed Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Chalwe Mchenga to resume Bulaya's prosecution due to public outcry and the need to avoid anarchy in the country.
"Let the People Talk" is a popular interactive discussion programme on public affairs.
Media Institute of Southern Africa
June 15, 2005