FELIX NKINKE, Lusaka
WHEN English Premiership side Arsenal appointed Arsene Wenger as manager in 1996, there was bemusement by the British media which asked on the front pages ‘Arsene who?’
It is probably a similar question that many members of the public asked when Kalulushi Member of Parliament (MP) Mulenga Kampamba was appointed Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services as well as Chief Government spokesperson.
It is safe to say that before her appointment to Cabinet, she may only have been known in the Patriotic Front (PF) circles or among those that have lived in Kitwe or the Copperbelt.
Slightly 14 months since her appointment as Information minister, replacing Roan MP Chishimba Kambwili, a question is asked: who is Mulenga Kampamba?
“I was inspired to join politics by the late President Michael Sata because of his hard work,” she shares. “I like people who are hardworking and the late Sata was one of them. I admired his working style prompting me to walk in the corridor of politics.”
Ms Kampamba’s political journey started in 2001 when she joined the PF in Kalulushi on the Copperbelt.
It was a new party, formed barely months before the December 27, 2001 elections by Mr Sata, who as Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) national secretary, did not agree with choice of Levy Mwanawasa as the presidential candidate for the then ruling party.
Few would have given Mr Sata’s PF chance of forming Government in a decade or so. In any case, there were other parties like the United Party for National Development (UPND) led by Anderson Mazoka, Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) of General Christone Tembo which had most bigwigs from the MMD who were opposed to Frederick Chiluba’s third term.
There was also Ben Mwila’s Republican Party and Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda’s Heritage Party (HP) among others.
Having joined the PF at such an early stage, it is safe to say Ms Kampamba is indeed one of those who believed in Mr Sata’s vision right from the start.
Three years after joining, she became a ward committee member, then was quickly elected vice Treasury at district level in 2006.
The journey was just starting.
In 2009, she was elected Kalulushi district party chairperson, a position she held for two years until 2011 when she was appointed district commissioner.
As celebrated footballer Kalusha Bwalya would say, she had eyes on the ball.
“I then decided to quit my formal employment in 2015 so that I could concentrate on my political career which I knew was just beginning,” Ms Kampamba shares.
She was adopted for the Kalulushi Parliamentary seat, which she easily won.
But the big moment for her came in November 2016, when President Edgar Lungu appointed her to Cabinet.
“I thank President Lungu for his belief in me,” Ms Kampamba says. “He appointed me to this ministerial position as a young person. I would like to contribute positively to help him govern this country to reciprocate his trust in me. He is a good leader.”
To top it up, she has entered into the PF strong room, the party’s central committee.
It looks like she has had it the easy way. Or on a silver platter. But she says the contrary is true.
“My political journey hasn’t been easy,” she says. “But because of belief in my abilities and that of the people of Kalulushi, I have come this far. I know the road ahead is not smooth but we all learn and I believe I will keep up with the political game.”
As Chief Government spokesperson, she is in the frontline and even firing line whenever government policy or decision is in the spotlight.
One certainly ought to have a thick skin.
“Holding these two positions [Information minister and Chief Government spokesperson] has been a challenge,” she admits. “Government critics are always there, but as a spokesperson, I only respond to issues that are aimed at building not dividing the nation. The way to handle this office is to be professional and ensure that the interest of Government and that of the people of Zambia is protected.”
Ms Kampamba believes that she has thus far done well, not just as Chief Government spokesperson, but in driving media reforms in her ministry.
She certainly wants to see the media develop in the country.
“Zambia is a democratic country, and as PF, we want to ensure that the elements that promote this privilege are well protected,” she says.
“Media reforms, Government is aware, are crucial to this cause. There are challenges though but we are up to the task. We have achieved a lot in this regard under PF.
“It’s there for all to see. Digital migration completion, progressive IBA [Independent Broadcasting Authority] and ZNBC Bills realisation, upholding freedom of expression and association, the media policy is under debate in Parliament, the list is endless.”
The Chief Government spokesperson believes government has done well in upholding the tenets of good governance in the country.
“Yes, the PF has given the people of Zambia what they want,” she says.
“Everyone is free to go about their business. We’re one country that is very tolerant to various views in a bid to protect our young democracy. We hold it to the people to ensure that we give them true democracy and they exhibit maturity to help us govern the country.
“However, it’s not without criticism from our colleagues in the opposition. They too are eager to come to power, but we are right on top giving Zambians the best. That’s why we were voted into office again.”
For how long will the public continue seeing her on the political stage? Well, there is more to come from her.
“I want to contribute more to this country,” she says.
“I believe it’s in every Zambian to play a part in the development of this country. Leadership is an ongoing process, you need to develop every now and then.
“We have to look up to God for guidance as we seek to take a front seat in national development. God is important in whatever we do. President Lungu has demonstrated this to the nation by putting God first in governance issues.”