The international data breach scandal involving UK company Cambridge Analytica has reached Zambia, as newly leaked documents appear to indicate that presidential contender Hakainde Hichilema and the United Party for National Development (UPND) may have hired the firm in the 2016 election.
Cambridge Analytica is currently in hot water in the US and UK for allegedly stealing the personal data of more than 50 million Facebook users, then using that information for “psychographic profiling” to manipulate voters with fake news and targeted social media advertising, according to several whistleblowers who have gone public in recent weeks.
According to an apparent letter of engagement dated 11 March 2016 from Cambridge Analytica to Hakainde Hichilema (attached below), which was leaked to several media outlets this weekend, the firm worked for the UPND in the 2016 election at a rate of $150,000 per month. The letter promised to “deploy certain third-party persuasion techniques which we have proven hugely successful in past campaigns in Nigeria. We feel that a similar approach is exactly what is needed to deliver victory to the UPND.”
The whistleblower also claims that Cambridge Analytica was introduced to Hichilema by his British political advisor, Henry Sands, who previously had worked for former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on a controversial election campaign.
Documents uncovered by the Canadian newspaper the Globe and Mail show that Cambridge Analytica had boasted of using unsavoury tactics in that 2007 election in Nigeria, including vote buying and voter suppression, in addition to circulating anti-Islamic videos to stir up voters’ fears.
Zambia Reports is unable to confirm the authenticity of the letter. According to a report by QZ.com, Zambia is among the list of 30 countries where SCL Elections has claimed to have worked. Henry Sands is alleged to have a close relationship with UPND, arranging a 2015 speech by Hichilema in London.