Wednesday, April 04, 2012
By Mwala Kalaluka and Agness Changala
Wed 04 Apr. 2012, 13:00 CAT
DORA Siliya yesterday described the two radar installation tender-related charges upon which she was arrested on Monday as a charade by little men just caressing their ego.
Speaking to journalists outside the Lusaka Magistrates' Court holding cell after she was released on a K50 million cash bail yesterday afternoon, Siliya, 41, said it was quite interesting visiting the government Hilton Hotel Woodlands Police female cell for a night.
"It was quite interesting visiting the government Hilton Hotel. I had some interesting company and listened to some very interesting stories, really insight, really," said Siliya, a former transport and communication minister and MMD legislator for Petauke Central.
"I believe that the charges against me are flimsy. I believe that this is once again the arrogance, I believe, of little men to caress their ego because we have gone through these charges before. You the Zambian taxpayers have paid already for me to go to a tribunal for almost a month over the same charges with High Court and Supreme Court judges."
Buoyed by the presence of a small number of MMD cadres and with her lawyer, Sakwiba Sikota standing next to her, Siliya described her arrest as a continued persecution of former government leaders, especially those in the MMD.
"I believe that this is intended to divert attention from the promises that they made, themselves, to the people of Zambia such as the promise that they were going to create jobs for many young Zambians in 90 days, the promise that they were going to put more money in the pockets of the workers who are expecting a huge salary increase," said Siliya who was clad in a black dress and an MMD turban.
"I believe that this is a diversion on the issues they promised, particularly the people of Western Province on the issue of the Barotse Agreement."
Siliya said her arrest was a diversion from stories that the government wanted to spend K5 billion to make sure that they can monitor mobile phones, the internet and know who is talking to who.
"I believe that this is part of the diversion from the assault on democracy they carried with a blanket petition even after they had won an election, to make sure that we have unnecessary by-elections in some cases," Siliya said.
Siliya wondered why today it was only the Director of Public Prosecutions DPP Mutembo Nchito who seemed to be the cleverest in the entire Judiciary.
"And not the Supreme Court judges who looked at these allegations when I was going through the tribunal. If there is more money in the pocket instead of spending it on repeat charges, we should be putting money in the pockets of you young people, many of you here today, so that you can enjoy the promise of the PF but unfortunately, I believe that this is not going to happen," Siliya continued.
"And I am sure this is not the first time that many of us will be spending nights in the cells even yesterday the attempt to deny me bail which is my right because this is a bailable offence, is again a problem of the ego of small men. I believe that this should not be accepted."
Siliya said President Michael Sata was elected as a President for all Zambians and not just a President for the PF.
"I believe it is his responsibility to protect each citizen before the law. Because they themselves, are little men, they are scared to even go into the cells, they hide. They are scared to go before the judges, they cry foul and look for judges they believe are user-friendly to them," Siliya said.
"But I am confident that the Judiciary in this country has been tested and it has continued to prove that it is a judiciary that is professional and will not succumb to political pressure."
Siliya said she was very grateful to the officers that she spent time with.
"I know that they were under undue political pressure but they were very friendly and I was very happy to meet them," Siliya said.
"So really I believe that this has been a charade of small men with small minds who want to caress their ego. For me if we can't trust two Supreme Court judges and a High Court judge who sat on the tribunal, which you Zambians paid for, then I really don't know why we would want to believe that only one person, the DPP's office, is the cleverest of them all."
Siliya pleaded not guilty to two counts of abuse of authority of office before Lusaka chief resident magistrate Joshua Banda yesterday morning.
Siliya is in the first count alleged to have directed the cancellation of a duly awarded tender for the supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of the Zambia Air Traffic Management Surveillance Radar System to Thales Air System SA.
She is in the second count alleged to have accepted a free offer from Selex Sistemi Integrati S.P.A for the repair of a radar head at the then Lusaka International Airport without following procedure.
The joint government investigative team says as a result of this free offer, the government lost K1,943, 932, 360.00.
Magistrate Banda after admitting Siliya to bail, set the date for commencement of trial in the matter where the state are going to call about 26 witnesses, as March 7, 2012.
As the small number of cadres dispersed to their homes with sombre looks on their faces, they were heard threatening to go and lock out MMD national secretary Maj Richard Kachingwe's office, because he does not attend court when MMD officials are being tried.
Among those that were on hand to offer solidarity to Siliya include disgraced journalist and MMD propagandist, Chanda Chimba III, Edwin Lifwekelo, Gregory Chifire and Lusaka Province MMD chairperson, William Banda.