Friday, June 17, 2011

Government assigns journalists to Malawi over Rupiah parentage story

Government assigns journalists to Malawi over Rupiah parentage story
By Roy Habaalu and Ernest Chanda
Thu 16 June 2011, 07:03 CAT

GOVERNMENT plans to dispatch journalists from the public media to Malawi to discredit former Zambia’s high commissioner to that country Milton Phiri.

Well-placed government sources said the journalists from Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation, Zambia Daily Mail and Times of Zambia had been assigned to pursue stories in Malawi which would discredit Phiri’s claims about President Rupiah Banda’s parentage.

Sources at the passport office also confirmed that there were instructions from State House not to delay the issuance of documents for journalists.

“We were told that there was a special assignment for government journalists to cover in Malawi. We started with Times of Zambia, Daily Mail got in after, together with ZNBC,” said one of the sources. “This Milton story has caused panic to the principal President Banda that’s why you are seeing chiefs being interviewed in Chipata, castigating Mr Phiri.”

Last month, Phiri wrote to Chief Justice Ernest Sakala over the alleged false declaration of President Banda when he presented his nomination papers as a presidential candidate in 2008.

In a letter dated May 19, 2011 Phiri accused President Banda of making a false statutory declaration before justice Sakala that both his parents were Zambians when in fact not.

“It has come to my attention that he did not qualify to stand under Article 34(b) of the Constitution which reads that “a person shall be qualified to stand as a candidate for elections as President if both his parents are Zambian by birth or by descent,” read the letter in part.

“While fully aware that at least one of his parents was not a Zambian as prescribed under this article, the President chose to present himself as qualified to stand when the right and honourable thing to do would have been to exclude himself from standing.”

Phiri has since received incessant attacks from President Banda’s relatives and some chiefs in Eastern Province.

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