The Post newspaper reports that A WITNESS yesterday testified that former president Frederick Chiluba’s spokesperson Emmanuel Mwamba confessed to him that he had authored two contemptuous articles relating to the Mathew Mohan trial.
In this case, Mwamba is alleged to have authored and published two contemptuous articles that circulated on the Zambian Watchdog web site which analysed Mohan and his co-accused Idris and Shabia Patel’s murder case.
During examination-in-chief led by Supreme Court judge Gregory Phiri, who sat as High Court judge, Post managing editor Amos Malupenga, told a packed courtroom that Mwamba had confessed having authored the two contemptuous and scandalous articles.
He narrated how Mwamba phoned him on the evening of October 18, 2010 asking if he had heard of the drama that took place earlier in court when Mohan commenced his defence and implicated some judicial officers and Lusaka lawyer Robert Simeza. He said Mwamba told him that Mohan’s testimony was the worst version of James Lukuku and that he was just a crook and liar bent on implicating innocent people like Simeza.
Malupenga said because he had arrived at Wila Mung’omba’s residence where he went for a function, he told Mwamba that they would speak later. After about two hours, Mwamba phoned back asking if Malupenga was free to talk but Malupenga was still busy and he didn’t phone back that evening.
The following morning, Mwamba sent a text message to Malupenga’s phone indicating that he had sent him a document. A short while later, Mwamba and Malupenga spoke. Mwamba said what he sent to Malupenga’s email box was just a summary of what he had wanted to discuss with him and that the two should talk after Malupenga had read the article.
Malupenga said when he opened his mailbox, he found the first anonymous article titled, “Sajid Murder – The Plot Thickens”, which was also sent to Amos Chanda.
Malupenga said he later sent a text message to Mwamba asking if the analysis on The Watchdog did not amount to contempt and that if it were The Post doing that, its editor could have been cited for contempt. This was on October 20 when he saw the same article published on The Watchdog.
He said Mwamba’s response was, “Aaaa. I have encouraged Simeza to meet with you.”
Malupenga had earlier phoned Simeza asking for a meeting.
Malupenga said he had several conversations with Mwamba who accused The Post of giving undue prominence to Mohan’s testimony because they had seen an opportunity to prove their corruption allegations against the judiciary using Mohan whom everyone knew to be a crook and a liar.
Malupenga dismissed Mwamba’s claims saying people at The Post were not cowards to hide behind Mohan as the newspaper had shown in the past that it could criticise the judiciary without hiding behind anyone whenever criticism was due. He said for now, The Post had no issues with the judiciary.
Malupenga said a few days later, he heard from colleagues in the newsroom that there was another analysis of the Mohan trial on The Watchdog but he did not check it on the very day because he was busy. He said he visited the Zambian Watchdog website on October 27 and read the article together with the accompanying comments.
“I was very upset when I saw how the author was cleverly trying to link The Post to the ‘scheme’ as it was referred to,” Malupenga said.
He said he phoned Mwamba asking him why he had proceeded to link The Post to the Mohan ‘scheme’ when the newspaper had clearly no interest in the matter.
“I briefly referred him to our earlier conversation but he said he was ignorant about what I was talking about. I asked him not to pretend that he didn’t know what I was talking about. I told him the first analysis; I was not concerned because he didn’t link us. But in the second one, he linked us and that is why I phoned because I was not happy,” he said.
Malupenga said Mwamba said he was surprised that Lloyd The Watchdog editor had decided to publish the article because he sent it to him on Sunday October 24, “just for his information”.
He said Mwamba said in any case, there was no need for The Post to worry because his reference to the newspaper was very innocent and in passing.
“He said The Post were never the target and there was no reason for us to overreact or to be sensitive over the matter,” Malupenga narrated.
He said he warned Mwamba that enough was enough and The Post was going to expose him because he had warned him earlier.
“He Mwamba said he could not understand why we were over-reacting because according to him, he had done bigger things against The Post and Fred M’membe in the past and we didn’t react the way we were reacting this time,” Malupenga said.
He said after about 30 minutes on the same day, he phoned Amos Chanda to inform him about his conversation with Mwamba but Chanda said he had already been contacted by Mwamba who told him that The Post were angered by the articles in question.
Malupenga said Chanda said Mwamba could not understand why The Post was angered by the two articles because according to him, his reference to the newspaper was very innocent. Mwamba asked Chanda to explain to The Post the context in which his harmless reference to the newspaper was made.
Malupenga said he told Chanda that they could meet although a decision to expose Mwamba had already been made.
He said he phoned Mwamba the following day, October 28, based on the information he had received and took him back to his previous conversation with him on the two articles. He said he decided to record this conversation with Mwamba.
Malupenga said when he put it to Mwamba, during the conversation which lasted for about 20 minutes, that he had a scheme to put a wedge between The Post and the judiciary, the latter responded that it was a pity there was such an interpretation because it was never The Post under attack in his anonymous article but the scheme meant to frame Simeza, that is what he was fighting.
“We ended the conversation with him saying he would rather discuss the matter in person and that he could come to my office so that we discuss face-to-face,” Malupenga said. “Up to now, Emmanuel has never come to discuss this issue.”
Malupenga said later in the evening, he received a text message from Mwamba saying he was going to discuss the issue with Chanda in the hope that the misunderstanding could be cleared.
He said he responded by saying that Mwamba should go ahead and discuss with Chanda but as far as The Post were concerned, there was no misunderstanding because they had always known his schemes against them.
Malupenga said after his meeting with Chanda, Mwamba sent a text message to his phone saying, “Actually, there was no meeting. I was just reprimanded. I think for a good cause.”
Malupenga said on November 2, 2010, he implemented what he had promised Mwamba by way of writing to him to put on record what was discussed concerning the two anonymous and contemptuous articles and also expressed anger at his conduct, which The Post considered to be habitual.
Malupenga said he indicated to Mwamba that he would be discussing with The Post lawyers on the way forward. He said he copied this letter to the Inspector General of Police Francis Kabonde and judge Phiri.
Malupenga said after Mwamba received the letter, he had another meeting with Chanda and that Chanda later informed him that Mwamba felt excessively and unfairly attacked and that he denied being the author. He said Mwamba had even issued a statement on the Zambian Watchdog to that effect because he had some integrity to protect.
Malupenga said he was very upset with Mwamba’s position and thought of phoning him so he could tell him off but later decided to send him a text message just to create a record because he had heard that Emmanuel was ready to repudiate his own confessions.
Malupenga’s text message to Mwamba on November 2, 2010 read: “My namesake Amos Chanda tells me u feel excessively and unfairly attacked and that u deny being the author and accuse us of wrongly accusing you. I am told u have issued a statement on the Zambian Watchdog in the bid to protect your so-called integrity. Surely, u cannot shamelessly repudiate your own confessions which will be collaborated corroborated by independent evidence.
“I hope u recall my earlier warning to you that u will accuse us of fighting u when we respond to your attacks. Its ok for u to attack us but it is wrong for us to defend ourselves. I kept warning u against linking us to Mohan issues because we have nothing to do with them but u were determined to do so. U should now justify why u only talked about The Post in your analysis and excluded other media houses that covered Mohan’s defence,”
Malupenga said Mwamba has never responded to his text to date. He said he still had all the text messages he referred to in evidence on his phone. He also had a CD containing his phone conversation with Mwamba together with its transcript and printouts from his mailbox showing the anonymous article he received from Mwamba’s mailbox.
Malupenga is this morning expected to tender all these before judge Phiri as part of his evidence. Judge Phiri said court officials should make arrangements to provide all the necessary equipment to enable the court to listen to the recorded conversation this morning when the matter comes up for continued hearing.
And Malupenga told judge Phiri that should need arise, he was able to prove that Mwamba was behind most of the anonymous articles although for now he would confine himself to the two articles which were of interest to the court.
Mwamba remains remanded in custody.
COURTESY OF THE POST NEWSPAPER