Before Fred MMembe grew big headed..Here is an outline of this man’s hstory, how we helped him make the Post the biggest thing since Copper, before we happily destroy the same paper that we helped make popular. And that we will. When MIke Hall and MMembe formed the Post, we all found a viable alternative to the Kaunda Controlled Daily Mail and Times of Zambia. We were already tired of the UNIP era and we were looking for a saviour. Along came the Catholic newspaper (was it ‘Mirror?’..I forgot) that spoke out in a docile manner what was going on in Zambia politically, but thanks to Mmembe and team, the Post (Weekly Post as it was known that time), with a circulation of 40,000 copies injected fire into people bones and with the swag and charm of the Chiluba likes, Kaunda was easily and painlessly unseated after an embarasingly long 27 year tenure of a dictatorial Presidency.
It wasnt long aafter Chiluba took office with a zeal to limit independent media that M’membe turned against him and reported that MMD wanted to hold a referendum on constitutional changes. In turn MMD banned that particular edition,resulting in Mmembe serving jail time after being apprehended for being found in possession of the said edition.
In 1999, M’membe was acquitted on espionage charges when it was reported in the post that Zambia was not militarily prepared to withstand an Angolan attack. He was charged again in 2001 for defamation after he accused Chiluba of embezzlement…M’membe is considered a hero in his crusade to stop Chiluba from running for an unconstitutional third term, though he would yet again find himself entangled in conflict with Chiluba’s successor Levi Mwanawasa for echoing Opposition leader Dipak Patel that Mwanawasa was a cabbage, utterances that directly pinned Mwanawasa to an accident that left his speech slurred for the rest of his life. He also spent 4 months jail time in 2010 and was still known as a hero right into the Presidency of Mwanawasa’s successor Rupiah Banda.
The post, backed by many other media outlets, was the forerunner to making sure that Rupiah was unseated and ushering in PF candidate Michael Sata. Clearly at this point, many Zambians had realised the tremendous power and influence that M’membe exerted in Zambian politics. Any lingering doubt that Fred was not the most influential man in Zambia, would quickly be dismissed.
In a silent war with M’membe and an attempt to appease the post, Sata hired some of The Post’s employees into his government, which most interpreted as an attempt to break the Post’s teeth. This has resulted in the post becoming a mouth piece for PF and yet proves the political chessboard that Sata outplays others. This has not really been bad news since the post’s glory is slowly but surely fading, especially when people are turning to online news where The Post Online is no match compared to other outlets like Zambianwatchdog, Tumfweko.com and others.
Maybe M’membe deserves the glory that PF is shining upon him given the persecution he went through snce 1991, and how he sacrificed his life to bring the media to where it is right now, and like KK, turn a blind eye to the similarities and almost identical practices that PF shares with MMD. Maybe M’membe is tired of fighting every new government, maybe now that he is in his mid 50s its time for him to reap what he has sowed.
But what he forgot to do all those years was to tame a generation that looked up to him, he taught that generation to be fearless when something is smelly and wrong, and now this generation looks at M’membe and in his direction, something is smelly and wrong..and may be time looms for the Post’s exit.