In this verbatim, Lusaka Mayor Miles Sampa says he refused to pay the bill after eating lunch at a restaurant because the waitress took so long to bring him a takeaway pack in which to carry what he left over.

Sampa insists that he had money in the pocket but refused to pay for a bad service, adding that other restaurant owners must watch out for him.

He also says his mental faculties are on top of the game and those alleging that he is now running mad are attacking him from a point of ignorance.

Below is the interview:

Question: we have seen a complaint that you went to a restaurant, ate food worth K700 and refused to pay, what happened?

Answer: That happened at the Restaurant called Roan and Sable. I have been going there for months, that is my hangout place for lunch or dinner for the last one year. So I have seen service go down just like it happens to many other restaurants, they come up with good service, they attract customers and after a while when there are too many customers, service goes down. So one of the things that attracted me there was the service other than that I live a stone throw from there. But I have seen service go down there. Sometimes you sit for ten minutes before you are attended to, even when you make an order it takes longer. I have verbally complained to the manager before but the service hasn’t been improved.

So that particular day actually I was having lunch with my uncle Frank Mutubila, my driver and my ADC. Then I had an emergency and I had to leave and I wanted them to pack the rest of the food, but the waiter was nowhere to be seen. And that has happened many times and so that is when I left that note. Let me make it clear that as mayor, I am not looking for popularity, I am looking to have work done and change the culture in Lusaka because when you go to a restaurant, you are paying for the service. So if the service is not good, there is nothing to pay for. I have gone to many restaurants around the world and one of the most prestigious jobs is being a waiter or waitress, people should enjoy their work. You even feel obliged to give them a tip. But in Lusaka it’s like they are doing you a favour and then afterwards they bring you a huge bill. So if nobody has ever complained, as long as I am Mayor, I am going to change that attitude.

Q: But don’t you have a task force at the council that is supposed to handle such cases, where people can complain and they go to investigate, rather than you implementing when you have personal interest in the matter?

A: I am not going to be a mayor of a theorist in the office, I am going to be on the ground. Where Lusaka residents are complaining, I will be there and get involved. It is me that they saved badly and as an individual I have the right to complain. We have rights as consumers, so the complaint there was more as a consumer not having a good service. I didn’t refuse to pay but I am bringing it to the attention that for the service that we pay for, the service has to be there. So I have told them that I will pay after a month and if anything I will even add interest calculated at my bank which is Barclays Bank. But the waiter who service me, I will not pay him a tip. So I am happy that it has received the attention that it has so that the other restaurant owners know that I am watching and as long as I am the Mayor I will ensure that service is good to customers. It’s different if I go to each nsima at the market or or Matebeto. That that is why the prices are cheap there because there is no good service. YI can eat lunch for K200, but there it was K700 you expect a service.

Q: But why did you eat the food if the service was bad. Why not protest by refusing to eat the food and also not paying?

A: Remember I didn’t say the food was bad, the food was good, it was the service that was bad. The service is from the point that you arrive at a restaurant, how you are welcomed, how the workers treat you during the time of the meal and how they treat you afterwards. My complaint is about the service not about the food. So the bad service was towards the end of the food and after I had finished eating. If anything I was trying to get a package for take away and the service was nowhere to be seen. They were elsewhere lost. So it ought to be a quick service. It’s not the food that I am complaining about, I even ate the food and it was okay.

Q: Are you advising Lusaka residents that if the service at a restaurant is not good they must eat the food and refuse to pay the bill, just as their Mayor has led by example?

A: No really. If they refuse to pay, the restaurant owners will report them to the police. So they should pay but they should report the restaurant for bad service.

Q: But you didn’t pay, and not everyone is privileged to be Mayor to get away without paying a bill.

A: If they want the restaurant owners can also report me to the police. But remember that I have not refused to pay, I am saying I will only pay after a month. I had the money in my pocket. Even now I have the K700 in the pocket, but I refused to pay because of the bad service. So I can report them and they can also report me. But in this case, I didn’t report them, I acted myself because I am the Mayor and it happened to me.

Q: You have suddenly become a controversial Mayor, Your Worship, people are wondering what is happening to you because something seems to have changed.

Nothing has changed [with me] and those who know me will actually tell that I am action oriented and I want things to be done. So I want people to be efficient and effective. So everywhere whether it’s within the council or everywhere, I just want action. I am not a theorist and I don’t condone output that is below standard. I am not here for popularity in this job. If I wanted popularity I was going to be making ice cream and distributing to people because that is what everyone seems to like, but I am not here to please people. But remember, in any job, there are those who are happy [that] you got the job and those who are not happy. There are those among the 35 [in the PF] that wanted this position who think they are better than me, but I can’t help it. It’s posterity that will judge me.

Q: At one point people were questioning your sanity because of some of the decisions you making and the things you say on social media, in response you said you are not mad yet, are you now finally going mad your Worship?

A: If trying to get word done is being mad, maybe I am. But I am just trying to get efficient work done. I am not going to open my ears to negativity otherwise, I won’t work. So now I am closing my ears to all negatives. I have people who advise me that I respect and if I am wrong, they do tell me and I listen to them.

Q: On the National Day of Prayer you were wearing a very wrinkled suit, and people were making fun of you saying your were now so confused in the head that you could not even take a suit to the laundry. There is even a circulating picture that I can send you on WhatsApp. What is going on? Are you okay Your Worship?

A: I have remembered the suit that you are talking about. That was a pure cotton suit, and pure cotton suit anyone who knows will tell you that it is crisp in nature. You can actually fold it like a paper, so when you sit it folds like a paper until you take it to the laundry. That’s is just the way it is, it’s part of fashion. So if someone doesn’t know that type of suit, how can I defend myself if they are attacking me from a point of ignorance?

Q: I can only imagine. Well, thank you very much for the interview Your Worship.

A: You are welcome Joseph.