Africa Confidential says senior intelligence officers and other security wings are concerned about the growing power of State House officials in Zambia.
And Africa Confidential says President Edgar Lungu’s third term bid will receive a major boost if critical free press is silenced.
In a report published today titled; ‘Aides with agendas’, Africa Confidential, which is a fortnightly in-depth news publication and analyses on significant political, economic and security developments across the continent, observed that the influence of President Lungu’s aides was worrying to many.
“The influence of President Lungu’s staff worries many. Business deals and dirty tricks against the opposition are multiplying. Concern about the actions of State House advisers has grown so much that President Edgar Lungu felt obliged to persuade civil servants not to be intimidated. At a senior civil service appointments ceremony on 3 February, he said that people had been persuading civil servants to break the law while claiming to act on his behalf,” Africa Confidential stated.
“State House advisers have been dishing out political jobs and government procurement contracts to favoured individuals but Lungu clearly felt that some had gone too far. ‘Don’t let the name of the President make you tremble and do wrong things, because I don’t instruct anyone to do wrong because I know the law,’ he said. Political insiders are taking this with a pinch of salt. Senior intelligence officers and other security officials are concerned about the growing power of State House officials, chiefly Political Adviser Kaizar Zulu, State House Spokesperson Amos Chanda and State House Permanent Secretary Christa Ursula Kalulu.”
Africa Confidential stated that Kaulu had overseen the removal of over 30 senior police officers and 67 civil servants from State House for alleged links to the UPND.
“Kalulu is currently appearing before the Lusaka Magistrates Court on corruption charges allegedly committed when ex-President Rupiah Banda’s Movement for Multiparty Democracy was last in office. The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has refused to drop the prosecution despite intense pressure from State House. Kalulu has overseen the removal of over 30 senior police officers and 67 civil servants from State House for alleged links to the United Party for National Development or for hailing from opposition strongholds, such as the Southern, North-Western and Western provinces,” read the report in part.
“Insiders fear that these moves are consistent with a plan by Lungu supporters to cleanse government of people with links to the opposition. The ACC is also investigating how Chanda and Zulu acquired certain properties in Lusaka. ACC Director Irene Chongo Lamba has been resisting political pressure from State House. She has upset Chanda with an ACC investigation into Wayaya, a bar and restaurant owned by him and his wife in Lusaka’s up-market Kabulonga Area, where key presidential appointments and government contracts are discussed.”
Africa Confidential stated that Lamba was facing political persecution for attempting to investigate State House officials.
“Lamba has been summoned before the Lusaka Magistrate Court for allegedly abusing her authority by retaining her shareholding in a law firm she was part of, Chongo, Manda and Associates. Lamba denies any wrongdoing and most believe that the prosecution is simply aimed at removing her from the ACC. The complainant against Lamba is Robert Chibinga, Manager of Asset Recovery and Operations at The Post Newspaper Limited in liquidation. He is also an ally of Lewis Chisanga Mosho, whom Lusaka High Court Judge Sunday Nkonde appointed provisional liquidator of the paper. The Post was forcibly liquidated as the last act in Lungu’s long campaign against it,” Africa Confidential stated.
And Africa Confidential observed that without a critical press, President Lungu’s third term bid would be boosted.
“Mosho currently leads the operation to stifle The Mast newspaper, which is the resurrected Post. Mosho has been trying to have Mast journalists arrested for using equipment belonging to The Post, and thus under the control of the liquidator, such as laptop computers and cameras. Lawyers say Mosho exceeded his powers by involving police in a civil matter. On 15 February, an arrest warrant was issued against Fred M’membe for not declaring The Post’s assets to Mosho,” stated Africa Confidential.
“Armed state police raided his home in Lusaka and, on learning that he had travelled abroad, arrested his wife instead, for obstruction. This continued suppression of the independent media is being seen as a concerted effort by the governing Patriotic Front to neuter any criticism of Lungu’s campaign for a third presidential term. Reaction from civil society and donors to the clampdown on The Mast has been largely muted, indicating that the government may succeed in its manoeuvres to shut down the daily. Were The Mast to close, that would be a major boost to Lungu’s campaign for a third term, for without a critical free press, it would be nearly impossible to galvanise public opposition to his bid.”