Thursday, June 20, 2024

The Fall of Media “King Makers”

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Wynter Kabimba
Wynter Kabimba

Hjoe Moono

Yesterday, 1st September marked the beginning of summer, winter is officially gone. But lessons from the events leading to the official end of Wynter in winter cannot go without sharing and comparing with similar events from around the world.

Bob Marley once said:

“You can fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.”

No matter how cunning one can be, the truth about their being, values, drive and inert character will always come forth at the opportune time, and as the Bible says: You will know them by their works, not words. From the outset, let me state my position on the state of our print media in Zambia: The Zambian media’s failure to present to the public the accurate view of the state of our governance is the greatest threat to Zambia’s democracy and development than poverty, disease and hunger. Long before presidential elections are to be held, our media, especially Wynter Kabimba’s appointed image building media house had started anointing the ‘leading candidate’ for the presidency, supposedly cementing their imaginary image of “King Makers”.

The events of the past week remind me of the life of Boris Berezovsky, once a Russian Media and Political Tycoon, who is said to have ‘made’ Russia’s two presidents through his media influence.

Mr. Berezovsky, a former academic professor of Mathematics developed into one of Russia’s best-known tycoons in an era of privatization, violence and cutthroat capitalism that defined Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Mr. Berezovsky used all his money and power for his own personal and selfish gain.

Like our own self-labelled King Makers and self-praised moralists, Mr. Berezovsky often bragged of his contacts with Mr. Yeltsin’s family—Then President of Russia before Vladimir Putin. Mr. Berezovsky became a key conduit to decision makers in the ailing and absentee president’s inner circle in the late 1990s—a group known as “the family”—similar to the Zambian “Cartel”. In Zambia, the “Cartel”, taking advantage of the absentee president, were at the helm of decision making, ruthlessly crushing any competition to succession—real or perceived.

One of Mr. Berezovsky’s key levers of power was television. He used his connections to gain control of Russia’s main TV network and employed the channel to his ends. In Mr. Vladmir Putin’s campaign to power, Mr. Berezovsky put his resources behind Mr. Putin’s rise to power. With his television channel turning its attention to Mr. Putin’s opponents, systematically taking them down ahead of an election that Mr. Putin handily won. Berezovsky brought Putin to power not only with enormous financial help but also with enormous media resources, effectively being called a mafia kingpin who in exchange for money provided high-level connections and protection. We have seen this in our nation recently, where those that sing and dance for the king maker paper are protected from prosecution. But then we also saw how the King Maker paper behaved from 2008 when Mwanawasa died and Ngandu Magande, their favourite candidate to take over from Mwanawasa lost to Rupiah Banda.

Desperate to be close to the power corridors, they bought into Michael Sata’s vision of the PF, a vision they had never believed in. They suddenly became Mr. Sata’s image builders—a man they so despised a few months earlier, and like Mr. Berezovsky television network, their paper launched a massive attack at Mr. Sata’s opposition in government and outside government. And yes, in 2011, whether directly attributable to their king making prowess or indeed Zambian’s desire for change, Mr. Sata won the presidential elections.

But in Russia, the decision to bring Mr. Putin to power was one Mr. Berezovsky lived to regret. The two quickly clashed after Mr. Putin entered the Kremlin. Mr. Berezovsky fell out of favour with Vladmir Putin. His power, money and influence had dwindled in the wake of Mr. Putin’s realisation of who Mr. Berezovsky really was and what he stood for. Mr. Putin chose to be his own man, and alas, Mr. Berezovsky left Russia and lived his remaining life in exile. He failed to cope and reinvent himself. To the credit of our King Maker newspaper, they lack any shame and can change camps at the dangling of a K14billion Cheque for debt write off.

While in exile, Mr. Berezovsky renounced and said:

“I repent and ask for forgiveness for bringing Vladimir Putin to power. I apologize for bringing to power a man who trampled freedom and stopped the development of Russia.”

While in London, out of the favour and luxury of power, Mr. Berezovsky tried to associate himself with Russia’s opposition figures, and often said he was trying to foment unrest against Mr. Putin from abroad. This however, failed.

Here was once a great mathematics professor in the Soviet era, earning a subsistence wage, he became one of the richest men in the world, a flamboyant billionaire who helped put two presidents in the Kremlin. He became the enemy of one of them and was forced into exile. Sadly, on March 23, 2013, he died in London, in exile, alone. The media kingmaker had not only outlived his usefulness in Russian politics, but on earth too.

That said, however, while the print media mays still be perceive powerful and brag of being the largest circulation countrywide, there is an emergence of a very powerful and effective remedy to the Kingmakers’ poisonous influence on Zambian politics: Participatory journalism. Opinion Blogs, chat rooms, virtual worlds, and Internet contributions. All these have progressively empowered ordinary Zambian citizens to change the course of the conduct of governance in Zambian politics.

Reading through the newspapers, I have found Mr. Wynter Kabimba’s media king makers to be highly unimpressive in their handling of his firing, furthermore, they have now clearly proved to be an inherently unreliable and deceitful bunch of media practitioners who regard the truth as a transitory, flexible concept, which could be molded to suit their current purposes, interests and financial aims. Clearly their influence and relevance is fast dissipating.

Zambians are now their own kingmaker. The era of enlightenment is here.

34 COMMENTS

  1. I like and agree with your last 3 paragraphs. Zambia has changed and some people addicted to the old world order can’t just accept it.

    It is absolutely jaw dropping how the so called mighty and big paper can dedicate it’s editorial to just supporting an individual who has been dismissed ..and this is not once, but THREE DAYS IN A ROW !!!!

    I’m sure Fred M’membe must be singing the old classic song over Kabimba’s dismisall – Why Does This Hurt so Bad? It Must be Love or Money

    All the best the PF A-Team, how the mighty have fallen

    • The last time I bought the Past Newspaper was in Dec 2011, as it seems to belong either to the toilet or dust bin these days.

      Let’s commence the next phase now, get back our now K40million (DBZ loan), from the kingmakers still leaving in dreamland. Let’s start this NOW.

    • Your MMD was no different. You threatened to shut down radio stations, radio Phoenix was one that gave people a voice. You almost revoked the licence. Arrogant RB now wants to portray a saints image, we know you. You are actually lucky that PF is a failure.

    • I LIKE YOUR COMMENTS ABOUT HOW CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS CAN USE THE MEDIAS
      FOR SELFISH MEANS AND ENDS. BUT NOW MOST PEOPLE KNOW THAT ITS LIKE BUILDING A HOUSE ON A SANDY FOUNDATOIN; THAT SOONER OR LATER IF CRUMBLES AND EVEN KILLING YOUR LIFE. IT IS ALL VANITY. MY APPEAL TO THE POST AND OTHER PUBLIC MEDIA IS THAT , LET THEM REPORT TRUTHFULLY AND BASED ON FACTS AND NOT SINISTER HIDDEN ANGENDA.

    • While we all accept that M’membe’s world is shrinking as Zambia gets on with the internet age, we should not get carried away because the pace of shrinking is rather too slow. M’membe is very aware that the number of Zambian’s with access to the internet is extremely low to impact or influence public opinion. He is aware of the threat hence is support for Govt attempts to shut down online media. However, he is equally aware that the number of Zambians who are politically mature to have a voice that would publicly discredit him is almost nonexistent (Hence he thwarts any attempt rather quickly). Today not many Zambian’s outside the rail of line have any idea of who the real M’membe is. I doubt they even know he owes them K14b and it is those people that hold the key of change..

    • Yes brilliant article, but I tend to agree with It’s a worry‘s sentiments. The Internet Revolution has no influence on Zambia’s electoral process outside the line of rail, not yet anyway. Other countries, S/Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, etc. perhaps yes. But not in Zambia.

      That said, Mr M’membe’s integrity has really taken a battering among the city folks the moment he decided to sell his soul for pieces of silver. I really can’t believe how this man changed his principled stance that earned him people’s Goodwill during the last days of KK and the entire FTJ regimes. I still feel cheated by Mr M’membe because I really admired the man… gone are those days when FTJ parliament wanted to prosecute him and only Aka would come to his defence.

  2. Briliant piece i must say really. Fred should realise that his influence on the electorate has been cut short way before he thought it would thanks to the many platforms upon which we can be assisted to make decisions, infact some of us these days only buy Fred’s paper to just read and laugh at his bitterness after what has happened to his preferred candidate in Kamimbya, id!ot!!!

    • He has the phase “You can full some people sometime but not all the people all the time” in most of his editorials prior to 2011 elections.

      Fred – Your lies have been exposed, caught pants down. You will not only fool people any more but will have no piece. We will get back our DBZ and other loans even if it will mean the Zambian people taking the Post.

  3. The era when newspapers were king makers is long gone. Newspapers were the only source of information and we all believed what they said. Things are different now with the era of internet and social media. We can pick the news from all sources . No amount of editorial comments can sway the thinking of people any more. The post was powerful when KK was removed. They wrote and we believed cos we had no other sources. In this time we choose not to buy the post but we will go to LT, WD, Tumfweko and many more. The era of Kingmaking using the power of the pain in long gone.!!

  4. Great analysis and straight to the core 🙂 Could you write another one to do with zambian religous leaders as compared to Rasputín?

  5. The snake charmers forgot one golden rule. A wild animal remains a wild animal no matter how docile it may seem to behave; the wild instinct will kick in at some point when you least expect it and bite you, the charmer.

    Some lessons come at a price.

  6. Like I said 2 days ago, Fred knows which side of his bread is buttered. Yes, he may be reeling from his miscue @ Winter Kabwamba, but his force is not yet spent. He is shortly to switch. About the strength of the online media, Moono is yet to analyse its strength. We are yet to have objectivity. Our alignment is seen in our blogs cos we have the bloggers who will support their party rubbish or insult dissent (PF/UPND)

  7. Well written and profound article!!
    And just to add, without Kabimba (and obviously Sata) I see the down fall of the Panga Family(PF) in the near future. And then the new entrants to the politic scene shall follow up on all those that have stolen from the Zambian people, the poor people!!

  8. Great article Mr Moono. No one can lie forever !! Its not possible. Even the PF Govt wont lie forever GOD WILL SEARCH THEM OUT !! Ths is the end of M’membe and Sata, Chikwanda ccant FOOL as by HOLDING ON to the Instruments of Power !! 19/09/14 is coming and we r waiting for Chaselis Mwango Chilufya Sata !!

  9. BRILLIANT PIECE AS THE BRITISH WOULD SAY.
    MMEMBE’S VERBOSE AND NAUSEATING EDITORIALS ARE A TESTIMONY OF HIS MORAL BANKRUPTCY.
    I PREDICT HE WILL SOON BE BEHIND BARS FOR AGITATION OR FINANCIALLY BANKRUPTED WHEN HE HAS TO PAY UP FOR THE FUNDS HE BORROWED.

  10. Firing Kabimba still remains a double edged sword. In the short run it appears to be positive for Pf as it seems to have unified that party considering how hated Kabimba was. In the long run, there are serious pitfalls. Firstly, the propaganda machinery of Mmembe has been lost and with it a new enemy (don’t underestimate the guy, weak as he may seem right now due to the K14bn). Secondly, any semblance of a national character the PF may have projected in Wynter is debunked as the Bemba character is laid bare with the result of popularity loss in some areas. Only solution maybe is to make E. Lungu heir apparent but this may not go down well with Bemba supremacists who are bound to resist for fear of a Mwanawasa or Moi scenario. Either way PF is headed for doom.

  11. @Deep Thinker, You know what, this thing of holding some people as irreplaceable is killing our nation. The practice is not only inherent among PF cronies but also among the opposition, UPND included. It’s like we’re so afraid of change and always analyze why it is negative rather than positive. Those of us who brought in multiparty politics in 1991 will attest to how our parents predicted doom for a Zambia without KK. Problems that come with change are not supposed to be seen as impossible hurdles but rather opportunities for solutions and progress. Look at multiparty politics in Zambia, the biggest problem it is breeding is tribal politics. Should we say the system has failed? No. But we should be looking for solutions, among which is a good constitution, which WK stifled.

  12. Good article, I used to support ‘The Post’ a lot through buying of the paper but now I am beginning to get disappointed with the owner. He seems to be using the paper to settle personal issues with whoever is not on his side. Zambians watch out , don’t trust such people to be in control of the country’s wealth, given a chance they would want to make everyone bow before them. Shame!

  13. Dont be deluded that this could be the end of Fred. Fred has survived persecutions by Chiluba, Levy ( in his 1st term),and RB. Even the k14 billion that you think is tying Fred to the PF may not even finish him off. The man is a surviver and a fighter. It is a pity that he sold himself to the PF thereby destroying the name and all the respect he had earned from Zambians. However, this in my view is good for the nation. It has liberated Fred from being the PR of PF’s wrongs.

  14. The article is weak and full of misrepresentations of world facts, including the misapplication of Bob Marley’s verse – except for people who haven’t read the sources the writer has cited. Some people are hoping to promote their careers by over-analysing Kabimba’s case knowing that their audience is not globally exposed, or even ignorant in some cases. Mmembe is NOT a king-maker: don’t force a label on someone and start criticising him using the label you have forced upon him – that is cowardice and just shows writer’s low intellect.

    Even the K14billion, Mmembe was just one in a large group of people who actually borrowed that money: but of course because he is the only one from a different tribe, people conveniently keep singling him out. It is utter s.t.u.p.i.d.i.t.y.

  15. It was not Bob Marley who said that, it’s the great Peter Tosh – from Get Up, Stand Up sang together with Bob but that phrase is Peter’s, listen to the original song. Hate when every thing is attributed to Marley forgetting that he was also learning from others. Any way, I had to get that out of my system….now let me read your essay!

  16. @uwakwisano

    Spot on…. Actually have that greatest hits LEGEND… Third Verse….

    Some friends of mine and i even joked some years ago that Tosh NAILED Bob Marley with that powerful verse…

  17. It indeed is sad but not regrettable that the post newspaper has gone into oblivion. This is the opportunity for business people and journalists of all kinds of persuation to start new generation of tabloids in Zambia. Once mighty global newspapers have had to fold in the recent past because-as is the case with the post- they took the people for granted.

  18. Mmembe calls himself Bemba. He stated this fact in 2006 when Sata was claiming some media to be tribal and he reiterated this two days ago when he said that he is a member of the Bemba royal family, just like Chikwanda. Mmembe is not Lozi because Lozis are patrilineal and Mmembe only had a Lozi mother.

    For those who think that the DBZ K14m will sink Mmembe, think again! The guy has not been standing still. He must have made a lot of money from his transportation business with the mines since PF came to power such that he could pay his share when judgement time comes. The Nchitos will have to foot their portion as well. This assumes the shareholders gave personal guarantees.

    In the meantime, as the PFost shifts to become the enemy of PF, people should be pragmatic – the enemy of your…

  19. …. as the PFost shifts to become the enemy of PF, people should be pragmatic – the enemy of your enemy is your friend. We should now support the PFost to get rid of the tribalistic and corrupt PF.

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