In a clear manifestation of the deepening rift in the Patriotic Front top brass, defence minister Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba popularly known as GBM on Monday stayed away from bidding farewell to President Michael Sata on his 12-day Asia tour as a protest.
It is the first time GBM, who is currently under investigations for corrupt activities, has stayed away from bidding farewell to President Sata.
His shadow rival in the PF fight to succeed President Sata if the incumbent opts not to seek a fresh mandate Wynter Kabimba was at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport on Monday.
Kabimba, the justice minister and PF secretary general, is also under investigations for receiving multi-million dollar kick backs from Trafigura using his newly formed firm Midlands Energy.
Finance minister Alexander Chikwanda is the Acting President and was present to see-off President Sata.
President Sata left for Tokyo,Japan aboard Ethiopian Airlines in the afternoon Vice-President Dr Guy Scott, Service Chiefs, Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba,
Sports minister Chishimba Kambwili,Lusaka province Minister Col Gerry Chanda and PF party officials all present for the ceremonial parade.
The battle against GBM which is being engineered by PF chief propagandist Fred M’membe intensified when the Kasama parliamentarian was stripped off all his ministerial privileges and entitlements.
Over the weekend, President Sata issued an internal directive to have GBM’s escort withdrawn from him, a move that forced the minister to also hand over his vehicle.
On Monday, according to State House sources, the President authorised the withdrawal of military security personnel at GBM’s house, pushing him further to resign.
According to the source, GBM had 10 soldiers providing security at his house, all of which have been called back.
The source said President Sata issued instructions to have the soldiers withdrawn and directed Inspector General of police Stella Libongani to instead deploy two paramilitary officers at Mwamba’s house.
On Friday, Mwamba handed over his ministerial vehicle, saying he does not depend on government transport.
GBM and some top PF members are unhappy that President Sata is failing to tame a clique led by M’membe which is propping Kabimba as the immediate successor of the party’s top post.