IT is wrong for Home Affairs and Internal Security Minister Jack Mwiimbu to ask the public not to make any comments on the ongoing saga involving the botched gold bullion scandal transaction and seizure of a private jet at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport.

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Mr Mwiimbu ought to realise that the incident has captured the public’s imagination as to what could have happened.

But Mr Mwiimbu should not take away the public’s right to comment on the incident which is in the public domain.  

Why does he want to gag the public from commenting on the incident?  This will only raise suspicions that Government is trying to hide something.

We can only interpret his statement as a veiled attempt to curtail the public’s freedom of speech which does not augur well for a government that has promised to run a transparent administration.

Moreover, Mr Mwiimbu’s warning to politicians not to use the incident to scandalise and demonise President Hakainde Hichilema and State House staff appears to be pre-emptying investigations. 

In his statement, the minister said President Hichilema and State House staff should be left out of the gold scandal in which the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) seized US$5, 697, 700 from a private jet, pistols, seven magazines, 126 rounds of ammunition and 602 suspected pieces of gold, which has since turned into a combination of copper, zinc and tin.

“Let the investigative wings investigate the matter and the truth will be known by the public at an appropriate time. 

We also want to appeal to the nation and those individuals who are fond of making malicious allegations without verifying the truth that in due course, appropriate action will be taken.” 

“This is not a threat. We as government have stated on several platforms that we shall ensure that the rule of law obtains,” Mr Mwiimbu said. 

However, as Green Party President Peter Sinkamba has pointed out, the incident has already been mishandled by the government itself.

Mr Sinkamba has questioned why the Minister of Mines and Minerals Development, Mr Paul Kabuswe addressed the nation to clarify that it was not gold but a combination of copper, zinc and tin that was seized. 

He said it was weird for the minister to update the nation through the press on the matter and not leaving it for relevant institutions to do so.

He said the gesture showed that the case was not handled well by the investigative wings.

Mr Sinkamba wondered what made the minister to address the nation and not the DEC that first informed the nation about the matter.

“The briefing was supposed to come from DEC as they were supposed to update us on the findings after the investigations.

If the ministry discovered that the mineral was not gold, it was supposed to give the findings back to DEC so that they could update the nation since they were the ones handling the case unlike allowing a politician to speak,” he said.

That would have been a professional way of handling the incident and remove insinuations of covering up, but in the meantime, let people speak for it is their right to do so.



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