President Michael Sata’s Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations George Chellah is struggling to cling to his position inside the Patriotic Front government following the intense infighting that resulted in the firing of Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba and the falling out with Post newspaper editor Fred M’membe.
According to an impeccable source within the ruling party, Chellah was recently given a sharp warning on selling out sensitive State House intelligence briefings and leaking confidential documents.
The source says that First Lady Dr Christine Kaseba, whose influence in the PF has quickly risen due to the president’s ill health, was the one who came down very hard on Chellah for having leaked sensitive documents to his former employer, M’membe.
Kaseba allegedly told Chellah to “reflect on what he is doing and see if it is right,” the source says. Kaseba warned that Chellah will not be allowed to attend any cabinet meetings or have access to the daily intelligence briefings providing by OP if he continues to behave in such a manner.
President Sata has not been able to personally receive the daily intelligence briefings in some months now, so the reports are usually delivered to the Minister of Defence and Minister of Justice and Secretary General of the PF Edgar Lungu, who then passes the reports to Chellah for delivery to the Head of State at his home. Evidently, the source says, some of these intelligence briefings end up getting leaked outside of State House.
The reason for the government’s displeasure with Chellah is the perception that he was “owned and operated” by the cartel of Kabimba, Mutembo Nchito, and M’membe, which including the leaking of numerous confidential documents. Chellah is also known to be a paid employee of the controversial Finance Bank chairman and cartel member Rajan Mahtani, the source says, whom he helped create the propaganda website “Zambian Intelligence News,” which has featured a regular stream of attacks against Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda and former Defence Minister Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM).
Now that Chikwanda and GBM are once again leading the PF party, both Chellah and Mahtani are believed to be the next targets to be sorted out after Kabimba and M’membe, the source says.
Since the purge of the cartel began, Chellah has been at the center of many disputes, including a dramatic confrontation with the president’s son, Mulenga Sata. His home has also been searched on multiple occasions by agents of the Office of the President Special Division, and there have been numerous meetings he has been isolated from and denied access to.
However there are many signals that Chellah will survive the infighting. His contract was recently renewed for a period of five years, and he has always been included in every delegation alongside the president, including the recent visit to New York. But President Sata is known to be volatile and unpredictable, the source says, so Chellah’s good fortunes could suddenly be reversed with little warning.
Chellah has separately been accused of amassing a small fortune through alleged corruption of his position, pooling enough cash to purchase several homes in Lusaka, Johannesburg, and London.