Yesterday, we raised concern about the colossal amounts of money which Cabinet ministers and PF members of parliament have been dishing out to people in their constituencies, in the name of donations. The donations have continued, and they are now challenging those who are questioning their wealth to report them to ACC.

Well, the ACC issue is a story for another day. But we wish to reiterate that there is no minister in the PF government who can claim to have been filthy rich before getting into power. None of them can claim that before being appointed in their respective offices, they were able to make a single donation of K1.5 million in goods and cash from their own pockets. That’s a lie and they all know. Even those ministers who are brave enough to mention the companies which they claim to own cannot provide audited accounts of those entities, indicating where the donated money came from.

The truth is that these people who are dishing out money without showing how they earned it are thieves. In fact, they are not stealing anymore, they are now simply taking. Stealing is where you try to be discreet when committing a crime. These people have nothing to hide. They don’t care what people say. But all this pomposity shall come to pass. The same Anti-Corruption Commission which they are challenging people to report them to will grow teeth soon.

Government is not there to enrich politicians. The criminality and arrogance we are seeing will soon come to an end. Like State Counsel Wynter Kabimba rightly observed, the paupers who are stealing and boasting about their stolen wealth will soon get back to being nobodies. We hope they know the consequences of what they are doing and they have signed up to join the congestion in prison, because the money they are taking has a way of getting back to its rightful owners.

We feel sorry for these criminals who are in a looting competition because they don’t understand how political power shifts. We have warned before that when you are a minister, it does not mean that the country’s resources belong to you. When your father is the President, it does not mean that you can take everything you want from the State.

Look at what is happening in Angola! When Jose Eduardo dos Santos was president, his children took advantage of his position to loot that country’s national resources. The President’s daughter became Africa’s richest woman. Where is she today? Investigations have documented how she amassed a fortune during her father’s three-decade long presidency. In December last year, the Angolan court froze all personal and corporate bank accounts belonging to Isabel dos Santos, her husband and business partners.

Angolan prosecutors subsequently charged her with fraud and embezzlement in a bid to recover around US$1.1 billion they claim she and her associates siphoned from that country’s coffers. What happened next, following a request from Angola, Portugal also froze her considerable assets offshore. Within a few months, the richest woman in Africa has been reduced to a suspected criminal, toiling from courtroom to courtroom.

Isabel is not the only one facing justice. Just this month, her brother, José Filomeno ‘Zenu’ dos Santos, was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison for fraud, money laundering and influence peddling. This illustrates the downfall of the former presidential family which was once extremely powerful and wealthy. The money they bragged about cannot save them, it’s useless.

The criminals in Zambia who are serving in government must draw lessons from Angola. What is happening to Isabel and her brother is not restricted to the President’s family. It can happen to anyone who abuses public office. We have seen people who feel so powerful and they are also calling themselves presidents. Since they are close to the Head of State, they have gained a false sense of confidence to think that they are small presidents managing ministries and provinces.

Political power is temporary. A President can lose elections, a President can resign, a President can die in office, and we have seen this happen more than once in Zambia. The moment a President leaves office, there is realignment of power. The forces converge and there is a new order, whether you like it or not. Look at what happened after Sata died? Who knew that Dr Guy Scott would be neglected by the very system he diligently served? Imagine what would have happened to him today if he was stealing while he was in office?

Political power has a very short lifespan; criminals who are dishing out money must know this as they make their donations. If they think that they are protected because they are very close to President Edgar Lungu, they must know that Mr Chagwa will have his own music to face in explaining how he amassed millions of dollars when he had nothing before assuming office. The same judiciary they are abusing today will be used against them when time comes.

We have nothing against giving, especially giving to the poor, but a person can only give what rightfully belongs to them. You can’t steal from State coffers and pretend to be a good person by donating to a church or community in your constituency. That’s murder because they have emptied the Treasury and now people are dying in hospitals due to lack of medical supplies. We are sure that if the churches knew that these donations are proceeds of crime, they would not accept them.