Another secret recording has emerged. This time Hon Chishimba Kambwili is recorded speaking to Kitwe district commissioner Chanda Kabwe over the President’s Marketeers Empowerment Fund.
The question is: how was this conversation on a cell phone accessed to find its way on social media and in the newspaper?
The issue is not so much the content of the conversation but the principle that private conversations could be recorded and then broadcast on social media in addition to being published in a newspaper.
In most jurisdictions, and perhaps even here in Zambia, this is a criminal act.
In the United States, the mother of all democracies, the secret recording by a participant to a conversation may be a tortious intrusion because it violates the principle of privacy and outlawing eavesdropping.
There is everything morally repugnant about this conduct. In any other country this conduct would be a matter of investigation for criminal prosecution.
Every citizen regardless of status in life has every right to privacy. This is fundamental expectation that the law must guarantee. A citizen must enjoy the protection of law to converse on telephone or transmit information without the danger of being recorded, least of all being eaves-dropped on.
In Britain it is illegal to bug a room, tap a phone, secretly monitor telephone conversations which are then recorded, intercept telephone conversation or do anything that interferes with privacy.
Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper, News of the World, was shut down as a result of a phone hacking scandal, which ultimately resulted in some criminal charges.
It is believed that investigators working for the newspaper had hacked into the mobile phones of a number of prominent people, more than 4,000 of them whose conversations were hacked, recorded and in some cases used in editorial material including stories and features.
There was widespread revulsion when the scandal broke out and the newspaper owner Rupert Murdoch conceded that the paper had lost the trust of its readers after the allegations.
He told staff: “The good things the News of the World does have been sullied by behavior that was wrong. Indeed, if recent allegations are true, it was inhuman and has no place in our company.”
In Zambia several cases of secret recordings have been published. These are recordings accessed by third parties through surreptitious means.
Apart from being illegal and immoral, the recent case of the alleged conversation is a total misrepresentation of the spirit and nature of the conversation.
Anybody who understands Bemba will appreciate that Mr. Kambwili was expressing a genuine anxiety regarding the funding of the programme as he was speaking to the programme champion in an intimate manner as any two Government operatives would.