Police question former Zambian Minister

Lusaka- Zambia (PANA) -- Former Zambian Labour Minister Edith Nawakwi was questioned Wednesday by police in connection with President Frederick Chiluba's allegation that she was harassing and inciting the public against him.
Chiluba had also complained to the police that the former Minister had defamed him by alleging that he was organising thugs to rape her.
Nawakwi confirmed to PANA that she was picked up Wednesday morning by five armed police officers as part of their investigations.
The ex-Minister also said she was being investigated for another complaint from the Deputy News Editor of State-owned "Zambia Daily Mail," Mary Mbewe, who told the police that she had threatened her with violence, and warning that she would lose her job once Chiluba left office.
"I am flabbergasted that the President lodged a complaint with the (Police) Victim Support Unit that I have defamed him and that I am harassing him.
I am on record for having asked (President) Chiluba to protect me from thugs, who have been threatening me.
I am shocked by the turn of events because I am the one who should be complaining," Nawakwi said.
Nawakwi is one of the nine Ministers expelled from the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), for opposing Chiluba's third term bid.
She accused Chiluba this week of organising thugs to rape her, alleging that the President sponsored the thugs.
Nawakwi challenged Chiluba to refute the allegations that he was organising thugs, saying this was one of the charges contained in the petition for the President's impeachment, instituted by some of Members of Parliament.
"Why does he want to stop the impeachment motion? This is one of the charges that we have put forward for the impeachment.
"He should be doing reconciliation now with the expelled members and not setting me up with the police.
We will take him on when the motion proceeds and I am anxiously waiting for the motion to be moved," Nawakwi fumed.
She also challenged Chiluba to prove that the State House was not involved in the alleged diversion of petroleum products worth over 61 billion Kwacha intended for the Indeni Oil Refinery.
(3,700 Kwacha=1USD).
The private "Post" newspaper Tuesday published a confidential letter purportedly written by the Inspector General of Police to the Treasury Secretary at the Finance Ministry over the alleged fraud.
Nawakwi, a former Finance Minister insisted Wednesday that the police should investigate the fraud instead of harassing her.
"What the police should do now is to request for information from members of the public regarding the oil scandal," she charged.
Meanwhile, a woman activist Emily Siwakwe, who said she was at the central police station when Nawakwi was being questioned, has denounced the ex-Minister's arrest.
"This is very disgraceful and this time around the women will not allow a situation where we are victimised on issues of principle," declared Siwakwe, Executive Director of the NGO Women for Change.

23 may 2001 14:37:00

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