In April 2017, Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu called for an out-of-court settlement in the case against the country’s biggest copper producer. President Lungu told the state-owned ZCCM Investments Holdings to drop its case against First Quantum Minerals. Lungu’s spectacular move was hailed by miners, investors, and international press. However, the decision triggered controversy. Marginalized leaders of the ruling Patriotic Front used the FQM case as a pretext for settling scores. Chishimba Kambwili, a former Minister fired by President Lungu last year, is carrying out a revenge plan.
A secret letter delivered to The Mast
On 14 June, 2017, opposition newspaper The Mast published an article featuring a vitriolic attack on President Edgar Lungu. Citing “reliable sources,” The Mast accused Lungu of “bowing to pressure” and “forcing” the state-owned mining company Zambian Consolidated Copper Mines – Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH) to discontinue the case against First Quantum Minerals (FQM). Nason Msoni, leader of a small opposition party, All People’s Congress, was interviewed to “comment on the issue.”
Msoni was just a mouthpiece. The reporter who wrote the story was presented with a list of questions to ask and a list of people he was told to interview. Nason Msoni was one of those people. His role was to spread incendiary comments, insults and threats.
OSI can now reveal that the basis for the article was a letter providing background and critiquing the potential settlement. The letter was hand-delivered to The Mast. The reporter was tasked to write the story by the Editor in Chief, Mutinta M’membe, the wife of Fred M’membe. Fred M’membe is the former Editor of The Post and Edgar Lungu’s long-time enemy.
Chishimba Kambwili’s courier
The letter was delivered to the newspaper by Kelvin Chishimba (see photo below), we can exclusively reveal. Chishimba delivered the letter to The Mast offices but did not get out of the vehicle. He gave the letter to the driver, an employee of the Minister of Finance, to give to Mutinta M’membe. She received it in her office and then walked to the vehicle to speak with Kelvin Chishimba.
A nephew of the former Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda, Kelvin Chishimba is a cousin and very close friend of the former Minister of Information and Broadcasting Chishimba Kambwili.
On 8 November 2016, Kambwili became the first minister to be fired from the new cabinet after President Edgar Lungu’s re-election. A Patriotic Front founder, Chishimba Kambwili used to be a very promising politician. From 2011, when the Patriotic Front became Zambia’s ruling party, till 2016, Kambwili hold various positions in both Michael Sata’s and Edgar Lungu’s Cabinets: Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Labour, Minister of Youth and Sport, and Minister of Information. He was National Youth Chairman for the Patriotic Front, and party’s and government’s spokesperson.
But while being a “public servant,” Kambwili amassed huge wealth and was fired by Edgar Lungu in November 2016 amid corruption scandals. He is now under investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission.
Lungu’s enemies are within the PF
Chishimba Kambwili didn’t take his firing lightly. He is still an MP and a member of PF Central Committee, but his ambitions are huge. Using his network of relatives and influential friends, Kambwili launched a secret campaign to discredit Edgar Lungu.
The letter delivered to The Mast proves that Chishimba Kambwili can count on Fred M’membe’s support. Old enemies have become allies. Kambwili can count on low-profile friends, like Kelvin Chishimba, too. Chishimba has proved his loyalty. On 8 November 2016, the same day President Lungu terminated Kambwili’s services as Minister, Kelvin Chishimba posted an insulting tweet directed to the critics of his cousin.
The fabricated controversy regarding the FQM-ZCCM settlement is also indicative of the Patriotic Front’s division. After he was re-elected into power in the August 2016 tight elections, Edgar Lungu consolidated his position as Zambia’s main political actor. With the major opposition party UPND (whose leader, Hakainde Hichilema, was arrested on treason charges) in limbo, President Lungu is now facing a new challenge: the enemy is within the PF.