Constitutional Lawyer John Sangwa, State Counsel, says if you become rich by virtue of being a politician, then you are a thief. His argument is that a leader cannot be expected to become wealthy after getting into politics. He says those who are driven by money must have that money before going into politics because politics is a service and not designed to make politicians rich.
State Counsel Sangwa’s statement comes in the wake of remarks attributed to a government minister in the name of Bowman Lusambo, who was defending the wealth accumulated by President Edgar Lungu and his family, while mocking Dr Kaunda and his children for failing to make money while in power.
“Kaunda’s family has nothing to be ashamed of, in fact they must be very proud. The fact that Dr Kaunda is poor and his children are poor should be something that should be applauded and celebrated. That is what leadership is all about. Selfless leadership is about having an opportunity to steal but deciding not to. Leadership is about your father being President of the country but choosing not to abuse that position,” says Sangwa.
We agree with State Counsel. Indeed, remarks attributed to Lusaka Province Minister Honourable Bowman Lusambo towards the Kaunda family clearly demonstrate a clear lack of understanding of leadership. Yes, it is true that we can say Dr Kaunda is a poor man and his children do not have the kind of money that madam Tasila Lungu is enjoying, but there is a reason for this status. Dr Kaunda did not steal, and he did not allow his children to steal.
The life that the Kaunda family lives is a reflection of the values that Dr Kaunda holds. KK is not a saint and we cannot say that he has never done anything wrong. In the 27 years that he was in power, he definitely made a number of mistakes. But whatever mistakes he made did not include theft of public resources. The MMD tried to do a forensic audit of his possessions but they found nothing.
Kaunda went into politics to serve the people, not to enrich himself. This is what we have lost now as a country. Politics in Zambia is no longer about service. It is about mitigating your own poverty. There are no values left in the governance system. The values that our fore fathers left have been discarded. Dr Kaunda and his comrades who liberated this country were people with very limited education, but they had very strong moral values.
State Counsel Sangwa is also right when he says selfless leadership is about having an opportunity to steal but deciding not to. We can add that humility is when your father is President of the country but you choose not to abuse that position of being a member of the First Family. Dr Kaunda and his family did that very well and that is something that should be applauded.
What we see today is wrong. There is a problem when your father is the President and you also think and behave like you are the President. Children and relatives of the Head of State need to understand that they are ordinary citizens. Those who work in the civil service remain civil servants. It doesn’t mean that since your uncle or father has been elected President, then you have become more powerful than your boss or bigger than the institution you work for.
We must also address the consequence of having unexplained wealth. People who steal public resources always fear leaving power. They know that they are potential jail tenants. Dr Kaunda did not have that problem. When he lost power, he never went into exile, he stayed in this country without having to watch over his shoulders. The same can be said about his children; they have never been summoned by the investigative wings. They are at peace with nothing to worry about.
When the election came in 1991 and Dr Kaunda lost, he did not try to manipulate the outcome, he simply gave up power peacefully. That is the character of a leader who respects the laws of the land and the people. But the leaders we have today are scared of losing power so much that they are going to the extent of manipulating the Constitution so that they can stay on.
We should not be celebrating looting of government resources and mock those that served the country with honesty and dignity. We should celebrate people that fear and respect government property. The concerns which Dr Kaunda’s children are raising against President Lungu’s daughter are real concerns which any normal citizen should raise. This is not a question of jealousy.
The Kaundas mean well. If these questions about unexplained wealth which they are asking the First Family are not answered now, they will be answered from the dock. It’s just a matter of time. When that time comes, we will see who is clever between the poor Kaundas and the rich Lungus.