During the FIC financial trends report, we asked the Attorney General if he would welcome a lifestyle audit for public office holders, including himself, and he found the question really easy. What he didn’t understand was where we were heading with this issue. Little did he know that, through his publicly documented answer, he fell into a commitment that he will struggle to come out of in the near future when the public demands to know how he earned what he has.
Anyway, we will get back to the Attorney General at the appropriate time, but for now, there is another public office holder who is flaunting wealth which he can’t explain; and we would like to have a say on that.
Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo has shocked the nation with a donation of 4,000 bags of mealie meal, 4,000 containers of coking oil and hundreds of other assorted foodstuffs to his voters in Kabushi Constituency, Ndola. The minister was very pleased to see an ecstatic crowed welcome him with ‘milk and honey’ in his hands. But he forgot that he is expected to account for the donation.
How can a minister who, on average, gets paid K25, 000 per month including allowances, afford to donate over K1.5 million? To raise K1.5 million, this minister would have to save his salary for five years without spending a penny. But we know, from his mouth, that in January alone he paid K100, 000 on behalf of Kalusha Bwalya, as a corruption fine to FIFA, and apart from that, his mansion in Chamba Valley is also stinking millions. So he is definitely spending big too. So how did he raise that money?
We can’t blame the local people for celebrating their own version of Robin Hood who steals from the poor Zambians to enrich the poor voters in his constituency. But the rest of the country must question where this donation came from. Where did Mr Lusambo get the money from? The law enforcement agencies need to have a conversation with the Lusaka Province Minister.
With the economic state of affairs in Zambia, this is money that even the government department of social security is not in a position to spend on the vulnerable recipients of social cash transfer. Things are just too tough for the government treasury, as explained by the failure to disburse funds to critical state institutions including missions abroad.
The minister must answer because even just the logistics cost alone for transporting 4,000 x 25kg bags of mealie meal and 4,000 x 5lt of cooking oil plus other items, would knock out the minister’s known income. But there he is, telling the nation that he is sharing the “little that he has”. Really? The little?
We have said it before that we have worked closely with Mr Lusambo in the past when he was the MMD Die Hard youth wing leader, and we knew his financial status then – he was feeding of the politicians who he fought battles for. When did he become so rich to dispense K1.5 million so painlessly?
Mr Lusambo’s staggering donations comes just days after the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) told the nation that there was a rise in illicit financial transactions last year by over K1.6 billion compared to 2017. We are told that public office holders influence the awarding of government contracts to their own companies or companies of their interest. So in many ways than not, Mr Lusambo is confirming that he does have illicit money to launder. Sadly, no one can touch him, because those who should be arresting him are themselves getting arrested for the same crimes.
The people of Zambia must never forget these donations. There is a good reason for one to believe that Mr Lusambo was donating proceeds of crime. If this is not true, let him point us to the business that he has been doing, which produced this money. Let him show us receipts of the taxes he paid on that highly profitable business he supposedly does. Failure to produce that, we will be justified to categorize him a Pompwe!