PF paved Kambwili’s road to prison
All was well between Chishimba Kambwili and PF until Edgar Lungu dismissed him from Cabinet in November 2016.
In Kambwili’s world, that amounted to a declaration of war. He went on a belligerent path trying to fight PF but to no avail.
Aware that his chances in PF were next to zero, Kambwili and his erstwhile sidekick Mwenya Musenge, who was also sent packing from the party, then ventured out under the National Democratic Congress (NDC). Kambwili wasn’t ready to take the plunge. So, he posed as ‘NDC consultant’ while holding the Roan seat under PF.
But he was on very shaky ground and PF were determined to cripple him.
Following a point of order raised by then Malambo MP Makebi Zulu on whether Kambwili could remain PF MP while professing to be NDC, Speaker Patrick Matibini returned on 27 February 2019 with a ruling that read like a court judgment. He was, after all, a former High Court judge.
The Constitutional Court would later overrule his decision to declare Roan vacant, but it was too late.
Meanwhile, Kambwili and Musenge’s marriage of convenience wasn’t going according to plan. Like two quarrelsome hunters fighting over premium parts of the carcass, the two fought over who owned the party. They expelled each other at a dizzying pace that even the most dedicated of political observers could not keep up.
Kambwili lost control of NDC and PF celebrated. But he still had the cover of the opposition UPND who were increasingly becoming his allies. As his legal woes multiplied, UPND leaders and members sheltered him and offered him tonnes of solidarity as he appeared for his myriad court cases.
From the steps of the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court Complex and with microphones and cameras before him, Imbwili launched scud missiles that hit and shook the PF tent with unsurpassed ferocity.
That he had humiliated PF by keeping the Roan seat under his belt in the resultant by-election only added to their dismay.
But PF were resolved to corner him. They went to work and gave him an offer he could not resist: Come back here and get your freedom or remain there and go to jail. The choice was clear.
By now, he was a convict sentenced to 12 months for forgery and was only out on bail pending appeal.
UPND Alliance Chairman Charles Milupi has a long story to tell about how Kambwili started avoiding the Alliance meetings. Unknown to them, PF were turning the screw on him and the squeeze was getting tighter by the day.
Remember Kambwili had once told the nation that if he went back to PF, then we could call him mad, a lunatic.
By the time the 2021 election came, Kambwili was where PF wanted him to be – in their camp. They had a special assignment for him. They allocated him a helicopter and sent him up North.
It was there where he said the unseemly and the despicable. Jumping from one radio station to another, he spread his hate speech against Tongas unrestrained.
No one in the party paused for a moment to question the path he had taken.
One of Lungu’s last acts before he left office was to pardon several people, among them Kambwili who had an appeal lodged in the High Court. He got his reward for the hate speech he spread against Tongas.
It’s quite a conundrum. He was pardoned for doing the PF’s dirt work in the campaign. But it’s that same dirt work that has now landed him in prison.
We hear he is appealing, but that is a double-edged pursuit. The High Court may in fact find that the five months he got was a tap on the wrist.
PF aided Kambwili’s activities and must take the blame as much as he should. It’s not enough for Raphael Nakacinda to say Kambwili’s conviction is “regrettable”.
What is regrettable, in fact, is not his conviction, but that they allowed him to go on that senseless path of hate.
His conviction is a lesson to our politicians to focus on development, not tribe and other divisive issues.