Information reaching Zambia Reports and coming out of the Zambia Information Communication Authority, ZICTA, indicates that one of President Michael Sata’s favorite pass times has now become listening in to telephone conversations of selected people including his cabinet and deputy ministers.
The unverified information from sources within ZICTA who insist on anonymity points to the fact that from now on anyone who occupies State House may listen in to peoples’ phone conversations be it fixed or mobile lines any time they feel like.
The sources indicate that it is an elaborate scheme using state of the art portable devices obtained from China and Russia enabling the president to listen to conversations in real time as opposed to being handed a recording as has been the case previously.
The gadgets, vary in size with the one being used almost looking like an ordinary internet modem and is user friendly. “This means President Sata can operate it himself without being assisted by an aide,” says one source.
The other president who enjoyed this was Kenneth Kaunda though he was only made to listen to recorded phone conversations of his perceived opponents.
According to a technician who worked for the General Post Office, GPO, later to be called Posts and Tele Communications Company, PTC phone lines of selected people including Members of the Central Committee and leaders of liberation movements that Zambia was hosting at the time would be monitored and recorded for the specific purpose of taking to State House for Kaunda to listen to.
Zambia’s second president Frederick Chiluba found Kaunda’s system and though not initially keen on adapting to listening to recorded conversations of citizens he eventually did fall for it at some point.
Chuulu Kalima, one of his cabinet ministers and an alleged member of the ‘Young Turks” within the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy, MMD, around 1993/94 was dumb founded when Chiluba made him listen to a recorded conversation which was in bad taste. This led to Kalima’s dismissal as minister and the eventual fall out from the MMD. There were no cell phones then.
But when the third term debate for Chiluba to go beyond the legislated two terms was being championed by the man who is in State House today, cell phones had been around in Zambia for at least six years. The monitoring of phone conversations was being routinely done and in one instance a recording was made of Major Richard Kachingwe saying some very bad things about Chiluba and the debate.
Chiluba, who apparently had a lot of trust in Kachingwe, called him to State House and played the recording of all the nasty things he said about this short man. Kachingwe walked out of State House completely numb and his days with Chiluba were over.
However, some sources within the ruling Patriotic Front, PF, are worried that he idea of listening in to telephone conversations is not a good pastime for the president and he must be advised against it.
They fear that he may devote a lot of time to this at the expense of spearheading and delivering development to the people of Zambia especially on the promises made before the elections.
President Sata recently caught Kabwata member of parliament Given Lubinda talking to an opposition leader. It led to the dropping of Lubinda from foreign affairs and the Central Committee.
Lubinda’s nemesis Wynter Kabimba – the now embattled secretary general – used this opportunity to fight the fellow parliamentarian using under hand methods. Sata has further listened to Kabimba and M’membe’s schemes to oust him or at least stop is second term bid.