So the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) has arrested former Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations Amos Chanda and charged him with corrupt practices by a public officer and receiving property suspected to be proceeds of crime. These alleged crimes are suspected to have been committed between 26th January 2015 when President Edgar Lungu appointed Mr Chanda as his spokesperson and 6th June 2019 when he resigned from the the State House position.
We are not surprised. Actually, we are surprised that it has taken the investigative wings this long to arrest Mr Chanda. We were almost certain that they were going for him immediately after he ceased to be the President’s right hand man. This is not because Mr Chanda was too corrupt, but because we are now too familiar with the drill that investigation wings pursue once a government official relinquishes state power. We know that once the Drug Enforcement Commission is done with Chanda, they will surrender him to the Anti Corruption Commission who will enjoy their own share of roasting him.
In our view, the Drug Enforcement Commission should be ashamed for arresting Mr Chanda after he has left State House. Where were they all along? Are they telling us that at the time when Mr Chanda was stretching his mouth like a camel in defence of President Lungu’s wrong deeds, these alleged crimes were invisible? When Chishimba Kambwili accused Mr Chanda of being corrupt, the Drug Enforcement Commission never took interest. Instead, they were worshiping him and making him believe that what ‘mad’ Kamwbili was saying was rubbish. But now that Mr Chanda is no longer as powerful as he used to be, suddenly the Drug Enforcement Commission has woken up. Suddenly, they are interested in the allegations that Kambwili was making. How shameful! Surely, it must pain to be this toothless and compromised.
But this is a lesson to those who have remained in State House and in Cabinet working for President Lungu. They may be watching this trouble around Mr Chanda from a distance and thinking “he was too careless” but tomorrow it will be their turn. When we see how President Lungu has treated Mr Kambwili who worked with Michael Sata to form the Patriotic Front; campaign and form government, we have every reason to believe that defending a president is a thankless job. Honourable Kambwili went the full mile defending President Lungu’s wrongs, but in the end he was fired and flushed away from the ruling party like used newspaper in Honourable Mumbi Phiri’s house.
To this very day, Mr Chanda stands out among the most vocal State House press aides. He gave his all to serve Mr Lungu’s Presidency. From the collapsing days and the achalasia theories, Chanda was there. When President Lungu was making careless statements about ubomba mwibala, Chanda was there to mop the mess. In fact, Chanda’s willingness to look stupid on behalf of State House made President Lungu look like a reasonable Head of State.
One would expect that for a press aide who went to those lengths, the President would reach out and protect him. But that is not how politicians think. Today Mr Chanda is dirty in the eyes of State House and the President would not want to associate himself with him. He has been thrown to the wind; to dance to the music alone. It’s a thankless job!
What has happened to Mr Chanda today is going to happen to those who have remained in power and feeling invincible. We can bet with anyone that Mr Chanda is not the last person to be arrested among those that are in President Lungu’s inner circle. Right now, the cowards at DEC and ACC are just watching, waiting for the power to be stripped off. One by one they will go this path, including President Lungu himself. Yes!
Of course right now the arrest of Mr Chanda must be music to President Lungu because he knows that he has immunity. No matter how involved he may have been in the activities that have put his former spokesperson in the current predicament, the President knows that he is untouchable. But Frederick Chiluba was more powerful than Mr Lungu. Time will come.
Already with this carelessness that he is demonstrating; arresting those who were picking after him after his drinking sprees in State House, we fear for President Lungu. Bembas say nakanyelele nga wakapimpila kalasuma. Let the games begin!