After the former Minister of Defence Geoffrey Bwayla Mwamba (GBM) fell afoul of his former allies President Michael Sata and the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party, there’s been a controversial scramble to obtain his parliamentary seat in Kasama, with the former MMD stalwart Kelvin Sampa leading in the headlines.
In recent weeks, Mr Sampa has been caught up in a web of scandals relating to a series of “charitable donations” in Kasama, which are seen by many as a form of campaigning, while other opponents have come forward with allegations of past involvement in corrupt deals. Most recently, sources are pointing toward Sampa’s use of hired police officers, who are able to threaten his targets with arrest in order to force them into a corner.
Sampa, who is a self-described child rights activist, has recently made several lavish donations to local government institutions and non-governmental organisations in Kasama, including motor vehicles, which he says are a way of giving back to the community where he grew up. Donations have included cash and bed linens to local hospitals, orphanages and the Bemba Royal Establishment. However many local observers are questioning where all these resources are coming from, saying that he is using the PF party name to pressure local businesspersons and foreign investors into supporting his campaign for the parliamentary seat, while the Kasama District PF has banned party members from meeting with the presumptive candidate.
One source interviewed by Zambia Reports, who was not willing to be named, said Sampa had threatened “arrests and deportations” of foreign businesspersons if they refused to sponsor him.
“Kelvin Sampa has been very clever. He has gone to some foreign investors who he has told that he is president Sata’s nephew. He has told these unsuspecting people that he is working with the president and the Patrotic Front. He has threatened some foreign investors with arrests and deportations. There are some people he has planned to intimidate with the help of some police officers from Lusaka,” the source said.
The source said Sampa used similar tricks under the MMD when he solicited for large trucks from a Chinese constructions firm, which he registered in his name and that of former President Rupiah Banda.
“This matter is in court, but you remember how he got one of the trucks and registered it in his name and others in the name of the president. This is the same trick that he has used in Kasama where he is getting properties from people, pretending they are his and he is all over the media purporting to be working for the PF,” the source said.
According to the sources, Sampa was in the habit of swindling investors and forcing them to incorporate him into their companies’ shareholding portfolios, after which he forces the company owners out of their own businesses.
“Kelvin is a very good friend of mine and I am with him sometimes when he has these meetings. Right now, he has managed to negotiate a big cut from the company that has been awarded the contract the build the Kitwe-Chingola dual carriage way. So you will see Kelvin on the Copperbelt so often. This is where the money is now,” the source said.
The source said Kelvin Sampa was using some corrupt policemen from Emmasdale Police station to enforce illegal arrests and slap tramped up charges on unsuspecting businessmen. The source named one of Kelvin Sampa’s cohorts at Emmasdale Police station only as “Inspector Kwalombota.”
When contacted, Sampa defended his donations in Kasama saying people must not be suspicious of his donations in Kasama.
He said he had worked for all the money he had donated to the individuals and institutions in Kasama, and that allegations of unlawful conduct were false.
Despite Sampa’s assurances, there are elements in the local branch of the PF that are already disowning him, telling their members not to associate with the former MMD man.
According to Kasama district PF chairperson Caleb Monta, they believe that Sampa has been conducting clandestine political activities. He said that because there was currently no election campaign in Kasama (GBM’s seat has not yet been nullified by the courts), it was wrong for Sampa to be campaigning and donating items to would-be voters.
He said all PF members in Kasama had been warned against associating with Sampa and those that would breach the ban would face stern disciplinary action from the ruling party. Monta said Sampa had been using PF members to accompany him on his donation sprees, allegedly to associate himself with the ruling party.
“There is no election campaign in Kasama and it is not right for Sampa to be campaigning clandestinely like that and he thinks we are so blind not to see his moves. He is posing as a child rights activist but we all know what he wants and he is using the wrong moves,” Monta said.
The ruling party has warned of stern action against any party member if they engaged in any form of business with Kelvin Sampa.
“The directive to stop our members from associating with Kelvin Sampa comes in the wake of accusations that Mr Samapa was carrying out a clandestine campaign for the Kasama Central parliamentary seat after he was seen in the company of PF carders at some of the events where he made donations to the underprivileged,” said Monta.
Last week, there was a violent clash of cadres involving Sampa’s supporters and those from the faction of incumbent Kasama central Member of Parliament Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba. The two factions engaged in a lengthy street fight, bringing business to a standstill in the Kasama central trading district for many hours until police were finally able to break up the fracas.