LUSAKA Province Minister Bowman Lusambo says it is only fair that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) investigates every Zambian instead of targeting people like him who are donating nshima and relish to the under-privileged.
And Lusambo says there’s no money for him to steal in his office, stressing that he started driving a Benz before joining politics so donating mealie meal shouldn’t shock anyone.
On Monday, Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) urged the ACC to take interest in the hefty donations being made by government officials despite the economic crisis.
Last weekend, Lusambo donated K70,000 and K50,000 cash to Roan and Mpatamato marketeers in Luanshya District, respectively.
But in an interview, Lusambo challenged TIZ to “man up” and face him, arguing that the ACC ought to investigate every Zambian rather than singling him out for investigations because he was donating nshima and relish to the under-privileged.
“Why should they investigate me for giving nshima to people? Is that a crime? They should come and ask me, they know where my office is. I am government representative number one in Lusaka Province and I have a fixed aboard. If TIZ wants to ask me, let them come and ask me from my office. When you go into the newspaper to start parroting and making noise, that is being a coward! I don’t like dealing with cowards. If they want to find out something from me, let them come. Why should they go to a newspaper? Why are they scared to face me and speaking from their armpits? When I was donating millions of kwacha in Kabushi constituency, they were quiet. Now that I am in a government office, then I can’t do what I am supposed to do? That is not fair! I have donated millions before I was a member of parliament, before I was a minister, not these K2 you are seeing. I expected TIZ to come and ask me then, not these nonsense they are trying to say. Let them man up and come and ask me,” Lusambo said.
“They want ACC to start investigating people, who are donating mealie meal and relish and ask where it is coming from? That is cheap! Don’t bring the office of ACC and other investigating wings into disrepute. Let us respect those offices. And if you are saying, ‘ACC should investigate’ they should investigate all Zambians. You have seen taxi drivers, civil servants, managing directors in parastatal companies; you have seen journalists driving and building houses. Are you telling me you want ACC to investigate the entire country? Are you telling me that because I am a minister in government I am not supposed to do any extra activities because I am a minister in government?”
And Lusambo stressed that there was no money to be stolen at his office.
“My office is not a spending office, we don’t have money there where a person can claim that we are using the government’s money. Government money is audited money, no one can tamper with it. I am a human being, I think. They shouldn’t think that just because I am in government, I have to surrender my soul to the government. It is not government that was feeding me before I started politics. I was able to drive a Benz before I was a minister. What can stop me from buying 10 bags of mealie meal? What can stop me, today, from giving underprivileged people mealie meal? Tell TIZ I have the answers, my office is open. They shouldn’t mistake my wearing of overalls that I don’t think; I am way ahead of them! In 1982, my father owned a mine so tell those chaps to come!” exclaimed Lusambo.
In June this year, Lusambo also splashed out K400,000 to taxi drivers in Kabushi constituency, among other donations, despite not having any known source of income prior to being elected as area member of parliament in 2016.
Some members of the public have, however, repeatedly questioned where government officials had found such huge sums of cash to afford to easily give away.