A Budget Speech of Any Country is Never a Classified Document


By Peter Sinkamba President Green Party of Zambia (The Greens)

As the Green Party we are shocked of the news of the arrest and detention of Messrs Chileshe Kandeta and Lazarous Mwelwa allegedly for communicating the 2021 budget speech to the media before its presentation to Parliament by the Minister of Finance.

For starters, the news of the arrest is extremely ridiculous. A budget speech of any country is never a classified document for two simple reasons: first, there is no public and national safety and security risk, whatsoever, for leaking such a document to the public before its presentation to the Parliament. Second, the budget process is a public process. Budget proposals are submitted by the public. This, what logic is there in classifying and criminalising lease of information that was obtained from the public?

I recall in 1996, the Chairman of the Constitutional Review Commission late Mupanga Mwanakatwe released to the press the final Report before presentation to late President Fredrick Chiluba. Of course the late President was upset with that action, but that did not constitute an offence at all, and therefore, the late Mwanakatwe was not arrested. The simple reason was that the report was a product of the people’s views, and therefore, the people deserved to know the outcome of their inputs at any time, whether before or after the report was presented to the President.

During UNIP days, we had a gentleman by the name of Kadansa, who always announced key reshuffles hours before Dr. Kaunda announced the same at press conferences. Late Kadansa also announced key budget items hours before the Ministers of Finance announced the same. No arrests were made to establish the source of information because such announcements were in no way a threat to public safety and security.

Concerning the budget process, the IMF Fiscal Transparency Code promotes releases of citizen budgets before the speech by the minister. Zambia is a member of the IMF and subscribed to the code. As a country, we must be transparent on the budget process and outputs.

As the Green Party, we therefore demand immediate unconditional release from police custody of the two civil servants.

We implore government to exercise maximum restraint on unleashing police force on citizens for petty procedural breaches. It is such acts by government that will diminish or even extinguish chances of securing the much sought IMF bailout package.


  1. The manner the Zambia Police is operating under the stewardship of Kapolyo Kampyongo and Kakoma Kanganja is often ridiculous. Kanganja has now become a subject of sermons in churches. What is his conscious? People are now praising his subordinates. Definitely the arrest of Chileshe Kandeta is shocking. I’m now beginning to believe speculations from some quarters that Kandeta intends to vie for the seat that is currently held by Kapolyo and so Kapolyo has engaged his paramount lunacy. There are many people that stand with Chileshe Kandeta. If he indeed committed an offense why wasn’t the matter dealt with administratively? A demotion would have been enough punishment. Anyway let’s wait and see

  2. My president, what does the Zambian laws say about classified documents? Is a budget speech before delivering to parliement a clsssified? Laws of the land must be followed even the bad ones must be followed, regardless of what is happening in other countries

  3. Sinkamba has never worked in Government to no the laws surrounding confidential matters. Running a country is a huge task. Chile she Kandeta is an MMD cadre inherited by PF in 2011. Flush him out and there are many more still in Government with no loyalty to PF.

  4. Thank you Green Party for a sober analysis. This is an over anxious Police Force trying to please political masters and being so overzealous they are ready to whip their own backsides if told so by the ruling party. It has never happened even in North Korea that someone is criminally charged for leaking a budget speech! Police States pay no attention to freedom of speech. That is why everyone posting here does so under a pseudonym. If they knew you the Zambian government would lock you up for demanding what is demanded on social media

  5. What is so secret about the public budget!?

    Everything is collapsing in Edgar Lungu’s government.

    PF must go!

  6. Corruption scandals: 48 Houses Social Security Cash Luxury Presidential Jet Ambulances Fire Trucks Mukula Trees Ndola-Lusaka Rd Malawi Maizegate Fuelgate Swaziland landgate Zesco Loans

    Exactly what I said few days ago when the man’s arrest was reported.
    1) It is not a classified document/information. If it is, this ought to be changed immediately. And Confidentiality doesn’t equal Secret;
    2) Governments usually have a huge task of marketing and selling the budget to the public so the earlier the media and public get a copy, the better for the govt’s messaging. Media always receives advance copies or excerpts/extracts;
    3) The police are wrong to force the media to review their sources;
    4) Zambian budget isn’t worth it anyway… no wonder the owners want to hide its contents until the day.

  7. Why can’t the green man read the suggestion from a more mature article from Chibamba Kanyama?
    A law is a law whether it makes sense now or not its another matter.

  8. LT censored me when I asked what the consequences of releasing a budget speech early were. Not sure why. It is a legitimate question. What goes wrong if a soon-to-be-public content is released before the public knows about it. I believe this is another one of those colonial hangovers that we have clung to even when the reasoning has passed its usefulness. Awe mwe…

  9. Zambia is not any other country, its sovereignty doesn’t include other nation’s constitutions.
    However, it seems we never knew that publicizing the contents of the National Budget is a crime because there’s literally no information about that in the public domain. On the other hand, safe guarding employment documents, information and being secretive is what all superiors and employers love. It’s in the working code of conduct, we must ask permission first from Ba chikulile everytime we want to go public like this. Ba minister works daily with them, what held them to ask?

  10. Key words in Section 4 of the State Security Act are “information relating to the defence or security of the Republic”. How is communicating a budget speech inimical to the defence and security of the Republic? By section cited above, information may not be necessarily classified, merely because it would be embarrassing or to cover illegal activity. Information may be classified to protect national security objectives. Most state secrets laws criminalises only national defence information. Judges in the Commonwealth have repeatedly said that being “classified” does not necessarily make information become related to national security or national defence…..So, frankly speaking this case of Kandeta Chileshe does not meet the criteria of national security or national defence objectives…

  11. Good point, @Chaos Theory — the darn thing was ready as it was! Imagine that! Then they go and throw a book and a kitchen sink at the poor guy for nothing. This is why nolle prosquis yapakisa mucalo.

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