A leaked document has alleged that the opposition UPND engaged disgraced UK data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica to influence voters ahead of the 2016 general elections.
But the UPND has rubbished the revelations describing them as part of the PF’s propaganda activities.
Cambridge Analytica is at the center of a controversy over its acquisition and use of personal Facebook data in the 2016 United States presidential election.
The firm has also come under heavy scrutiny for its role in the Kenyan and Nigeria presidential elections.
In a leaked letter addressed to UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema who was standing for a record fifth time in the 2016 elections, Cambridge Analytica Chief Executive Officer Alexander Nix who is now suspended following the scandal proposes to help the UPND win the elections by using “certain third party persuasion techniques”.
Mr. Nix explained that his firm had used the same techniques successfully in the Nigeria elections and he “feels a similar approach is exactly what is needed to deliver victory to the UPND.”
He said he was happy to have met with Mr. Hichilema in March 2016 and shared his frustration over the outcome of the past election.
Mr. Nix offered the UPND candidate a reduced rate of US$150,000 per month after Mr. Hichilema raised concerns over the budget and the short period of time ahead of the elections.
But UPND Spokesman Charles Kakoma said the expose is nothing but propaganda from the PF meant to divert attention from the impeachment process of President Edgar Lungu.
Mr. Kakoma said all aspects of the UPND campaigns were run by Mr Dipak Patel and that he did not receive any external support of any kind.
Asked about a photo which shows Mr. Hichilema meeting with a Mr. Henry Sands of Sabi Strategy Group and an Associate of the Brenthurst Foundation, Mr. Kakoma said Mr. Hichilema meets a lot of white people from all over the world.
In the letter, Mr. Nix reveals that Mr. Hichilema had raised some concerns over the pricing of Mr. Sands, whom he described as a mutual friend.
Mr. Sands who is Managing Director at SABI Strategy Group, a firm that provides comprehensive communication strategies and solutions to international businesses, High-net-worth individual and political organizations attended Birmingham University, the same university Mr. Hichilema attended to study for his Finance and Business Strategy masters programme.
“This is part of propaganda by the PF. In the last one week, they had been trying to divert attention of the people from the impeachment motion and they are coming up with all sorts of allegations including that we have received funding from outsiders to buy MPs and now they are bringing in Cambridge Analytica because it is being implicated in other parts of the world and they would want to throw that mud at the UPND,” Mr Kakoma explained.
“How did the UPND manipulate the elections? It’s actually us the UPND who are aggrieved that the PF manipulated the elections, they hired people from all over the world including people that manipulated the election results in computers and we caught one person from Uganda, Chavula in the ECZ server room manipulating the elections and it us who complained and we took the matter to court that the election was rigged by PF, they can’t turn around this time around and claim that we hired Cambridge Analytica. How did we hire them? Ask the ECZ whether they saw any manipulation by the UPND? The manipulation was from the PF and we caught them.”
In a three-part series titled ‘Data, Democracy and Dirty Tricks’, Britain’s Channel 4 News exposes how Cambridge Analytica targets voters with propaganda to influence their voting decisions.
In the investigation, the company’s bosses Mr. Nix, are secretly filmed saying they discreetly campaign in elections across the world through a web of shadowy front companies or by using sub-contractors.
In the Kenyan propaganda campaign, Cambridge Analytica executives say they worked for the re-election of re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta behind the scenes.
Mr. Nix will appear before a British parliamentary committee, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, his second before the committee and is likely to take place on April 17.
Lawmakers in the United States and Europe are demanding to know more about Facebook’s privacy practices after a whistleblower said Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed data to target US and British voter.
Cambridge Analytica, which served as the data operations team for Donald Trump’s election campaign in 2016, came under scrutiny after reports in The New York Times and The Guardian stated that the company had misused a researcher’s data to harvest more than 50 million user profiles from the site.
The revelations have triggered a crisis at Facebook, with lawmakers in several countries now investigating the company’s response.