In recent weeks, internal divisions in the ruling Patriotic Front party have heated up between Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba and his defence counterpart Geoffrey Bwayla Mwamba over who takes over the ruling party presidency from the elderly and often unwell President Michael Sata.
This competition for party leadership has now broken out into the open as the Post Newspaper, seen as the unofficial party mouthpiece, published an attack against Mwamba over alleged corruption in a sign of a new campaign to back Kabimba’s bid to take over the party.
The Post, which was used extensively by President Sata to accuse opponents of alleged corruption during and after his presidential campaign, now claims it has documented evidence of Mwamba’s corrupt activities in parastatal companies.
Today, the newspaper ran a dramatic headline on its front page accusing Mwamba of unlawfully soliciting contracts from the power utility company ZESCO.
According to The Post, Mwamba has been pressuring Zesco to award his company a one-year contract for the supply and delivery of wooden poles.
“According to documentation, Zesco intends to award a tender for the supply and delivery of 9m, 10m and 12m wooden poles on a one-year running contract basis to several bidders, including Arizona Marketing & Distribution, which belongs to GBM and two of his family members,” the article reads.
Documents obtained from the Patents and Companies Registration Agency [PACRA] indicate that Arizona Marketing & Distribution, whose bid price on the above Zesco wooden poles contract was US$7,214,155.00 (about K36.7 billion), is owned by Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba, of plot 10 Roan Road, Kabulonga,
Other companies that bid for the Zesco contract and where Geoffrey Mwamba, who is also Kasama Central PF member of parliament has an interest include Engilex, whose bid price for the contract was K14 billion, Premia Supplies Limited with a bid price US$337,500 and Astro Holdings Limited with a bid price of US$405,000.”
The post alleges that Mwamba physically went to Zesco and prevailed on management there to award the wooden pole tender to his company and others where he has an interest.
Mwamba admitted to the post that despite being a politician, he is also a businessman and his children have the right to pursue their business agendas because they are Zambian citizens.
“Tell them that is nonsense. Being a politician doesn’t mean that my children can’t do business. They will continue because they are Zambians,” he said. “What people should understand is I am Zambian. You have known me all to be a businessman…I have been a businessman all my life.”
This is the first time that The Post Newspaper has covered corruption among the PF government, representing a departure from the usual editorial policy of covering up government misconduct. In contrast, when Mwamba was accused of corruption by the opposition for the concession of military supply contracts to his own company, The Post ran several articles discarding the allegations.
Wynter Kabimba has also faced corruption allegation related to his involvement in the awarding of contracts to Miombo investment and Omnia for the supply of fertilizer subsidies by the PF government, as well as a license granted to Midlands Energy (where he is an undeclared shareholder), but these two stories have not been investigated or published by the Post.
According to one source we consulted close to the newspaper, the Post owner and editor Fred M’membe doesn’t believe that Mwamba has the sufficient academic qualifications to take over from President Sata in the event he is unable to finish his term, and as such, the newspaper is opening up a propaganda campaign in support of Kabimba.