So, a State House Special Assistant to the President for Project Implementation and Monitoring, Andrew Chellah, has bought a wristwatch from the Head of State auctioned at K53, 000 during a Church NGO fundraising event. People are in shock! Where can a civil servant at Permanent Secretary level find K53, 000 to buy a wristwatch when his net salary is actually below that?

But this is not the first auction where a State House official or PF cadre has coughed out staggering amounts of cash in an attempt to attract attention using their exuberance and flamboyancy.

Have we forgotten already that a mere PF cadre called Munir Zulu whose major business investment is having access to State House, bought the President’s hat at K185, 000? Why are people surprised that Mr Chellah can afford to part away with K53, 000 for the Head of State’s timepiece? What is surprising here? To us, we are more shocked that people are surprised.

This is what we mean when we report that our fortunate brothers who are working at State House and those from the ruling party who walk the corridors of power have become millionaires. What is K53, 000 to Mr Chellah or indeed any other State House official? That is just pocket change, which they leave at home for their wives to buy groceries.

This economy that you talk about being bad and the scarcity of money is in your houses not in the pockets of the tycoons in State House. To them money is not a problem but how to spend it. That is what has been left of the pro-poor party that was elected to put more money in people’s pockets.

They can afford to go to top most holiday destinations in the world, flying in the most expensive jets. They drive some of the most luxurious cars that money can buy and when dared at an auction, they can spend really big!

And we wonder why many times auctioned items that belong to the President end up being bought by someone who either works at State House or close to the presidency. The other time it was Freedom Sikazwe buying the Head of State’s memorabilia in similar fashion. Is this a scheme to fool people? What is going on? Why are State House officials so proud of showing off their wealth in the face of a starving population?

We are not averse to donating money for a good cause like Mr Chellah did when he offloaded K53, 000, just to show that ‘time is money’ and he has both. But our point is that, if these people in State House have such kind of money, why not donate it quietly without climbing onto a stage to flaunt pomp and splendour?

Anyway if they prefer to spend their unearned money in this fashion of giving back to the people, we can’t complain. But we have a bigger and better suggestion. Maybe Kunda Mando must organize a ‘garage sale’ challenge at State House where advisors can out-buy each other through auctions of various items. A few more wristwatches, a couple of hats and jackets may pay lecturers’ salaries. Who knows? Maybe President Lungu’s jogging sweatpants may fix the budget deficit. We have Eurobonds to pay…

On a serious note though, our view is that we truly need a lifestyle audit of these people who now occupy senior positions around the presidency. Yes, getting rich is not a sin, but we need to show accountability. A rich man’s wealth needs to have a source, if it has no source then there is cause for worry. How is it that these guys are the only ones who are not feeling the biting economy?

Indeed we need prayers, and the church must be in the forefront interceding. They should not just celebrate when they get such ‘donations’. They should pray very hard to purify such funds because some of it actually comes as proceeds of crime. We know they can’t ask where the money came from, but they must bear in mind that some of it is not clean. We mean no disrespect to the Church, and we don’t know what the rules are about receiving offerings from sinful acts, but what we know is that He is a God of order and His eight Commandment says “Thou shalt not steal”.