Chris Zumani Zimba, Political Scientist, Author, PhD Scholar, Lecturer and Consultant
“WE, THE PEOPLE OF ZAMBIA: ACKNOWLEDGE the supremacy of God Almighty; DECLARE the Republic a Christian Nation while upholding a person’s right to freedom of conscience, belief or religion; UPHOLD the human rights and fundamental freedoms of every person; COMMIT ourselves to upholding the principles of democracy and good governance; RESOLVE to ensure that our values relating to family, morality, patriotism and justice are maintained and all functions of the State are performed in our common interest;”… The Preamble of the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) No. 2 of 2016 clearly reads. But in Zambia today, President Lungu is consistently being accused of dangerously plundering public resources and pompously stealing from the poor in serious embezzlement fashions. When you critically analyze the facts, it is not wrong to say that ‘Eagle One’ is involved in aggravated ‘kleptocracy’ (official rule by theft) as this elected President is suspected of stealing everything and from everyone-including from more than 55% Zambians living below poverty line as well as looting public resources of 16 million citizens who are in the 10 provinces of the country. Overtly, these embezzlement allegations become more worrisome when mirrored against President Lungu’s amazing wealth acquired in nearly three years. This makes everything around ‘Eagle One’ to be at discrepancy with the aforesaid national values in our Supreme Law.
On the ‘responsibilities of citizen’, Article 43. (1) (a) of the Zambian Constitution states that “A citizen shall — be patriotic to Zambia and promote its development and good image”. Given that the corruption allegations against President Lungu betrays our economic progress and global perception, this article is a natural response and civic obedience to this national duty and expected role of a good citizen. Theodore Roosevelt said, “We must hold to a rigid accountability those public servants who show unfaithfulness to the interests of the nation or inability to rise to the high level of the new demands upon our strength and our resources”. It is against this background that I have identified 15 reasons as to why Zambians need to take an extraordinary legal approach to allow President Lungu exculpate himself and account for all the gross corruption allegations leveled against him. This will mean trading outside Article 98 of our ‘magna charter’ by either suspending or temporally lifting his immunity in order to extract fiscal/asset audit and execute public exculpation from this elected leader based on the following grounds:
- According to the list of declared assets in July 2016 submitted to the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) before the August Presidential and General Elections, President Lungu declared K23, 700,000 (K 23.7 Billion unrebased) as his net worth. To the contrary, President Lungu declared only K2, 500, 000 (K 2.5 Billion unrebased) as his net worth in the January 2015 Presidential bye elections when he first contested following the death of President Sata. Did President Lungu win a lotto jackpot or some sport betting game at any point between January 2015 and July 2017 which Zambians need to know? If he did how much was involved, where and when? Is President Lungu a private beneficiary of Prophet Ebert Angel or Bushili’s miracle money which swell miraculously in bank accounts by fire and thunder of faith? Even then, how much did he receive via miracle money connections and how much is non-spiritual wealth? Is ‘Eagle One’ the new Aliko Dangote or Bill Gates of Zambia? How did this Christian President acquire more than K20, 000,000 in 18 months? What is the source of President Lungu’s new abnormal riches? Unless properly explained and validated by himself, President Lungu’s wealth accumulation violates all the rules of traditional business and bank ethnics.
- At the speed President Lungu is moving in terms of wealth accumulation, it is not premature to generalize that the 16 million poor Zambians may soon or later produce another Mubutu Seseko, a President who became richer than his poor country and people. In other words, ‘Eagle One’s wealth trajectory must bother and worry every responsible Zambian. Since he has empirically shown that he makes approximately K10, 000,000 (10 Billion unrebased) every six months, then we have an idea that Lungu will accumulate not less than K 140, 000, 000 (140 Billion unrebased) riches by 2021 or K280, 000,000 (280 Billion unrebased) net wealth by 2026 respectively. In the actual sense, these figures could be doubled as our projection is based on his self-disclosed wealth in July 2016 as stated above. This is minus the wealth of his wife-Esther Lungu, Children like Tasila Lungu or relatives from both himself and the wife. In a democracy, this must not be ignored or buried under the carpet. While it is fine for ‘Eagle One’ to become the richest Zambian soon or later, the rules of democracy and good governance also demands the President to disclose and clarify about the sources of his miracle and historical accumulation of wealth. And this will require his immunity to be lifted or suspended given that he is also being mentioned in many corruption allegations.
- On 10th January, 2018, the Zambian Observer controversially reported that as at the end of December, 2017, President Edgar Chagwa was among the richest people in Zambia with a net worth of around 400 million dollars which is attributed to his investment with Scania trucks and holding majority shares with undisclosed top companies in Zambia. These revelations are too scaring as it means that President Lungu has made K400, 000,000 in three years. And without ‘Eagle One’ fiscally exculpating and politically cleansing himself about his ‘magic wealth’, the President becomes a hated worst plunderer and unchurched looter of public resources in the eyes of the masses. This is because all Zambians are aware that President Lungu is not America’s Oprah Winfrey who has a monthly income of over K 69,017,664 translating into an annual salary income of K 828,211,973 or FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi whose annual income exceed K 808,011,681 based on his monthly fortune of K 67,334,307. How and where on earth can a civil servant who is on K36, 000 monthly salary make this abnormal wealth in 3 years? Even if President Lungu’s monthly salary plus special allowances were tripled to K100, 000, the expected income after 3 years would be not more than K3, 600,000. Under such, the question of suspending his immunity in order for him to exculpate himself cannot be ignored or wait until he leaves office in 2021 or 2026.
- Factually, all informed Zambians know that President Lungu is not among the top 150 highest paid presidents in the world. In Africa, Lungu is only sitting on number 14 on the top 15 highest paid presidents. With Jacob Zuma of South Africa being the highest paid African President with an annual salary income K 1, 943, 063, Lungu is ranked 14th on the continent with an annual salary income of annual K 432, 000 plus special allowances of K117, 648 yearly according to ‘My Wage’s Salaries for VIPs and Celebrities’. Therefore, common sense tell us that President Lungu’s wealth between 2015 January and 2017 December was supposed to grow in the range of 25,000,000 to 400,000,000. As such, in this poor state that is battling from cholera, malaria, malnutrition and HIV infections, it is too abnormal and shocking for President Lungu to acquire such astronomical wealth to the extent that, there is need to interpret and scrutinize it with extraordinary legal tools and urgent political remedies. In this case, the question of suspending or lifting his presidential immunity cannot wait for him to leave office in 2021 or 2026.
- On 30th December, 2017, the Zambian Observer and other Media houses reported that PF Youths impounded more than 10 trucks in Chilanga Area carrying controversial contraband, illegal Mukula timber being exported under heavy security escort from Zambia National Service (ZNS). These PF youth only demanded for answers from President Lungu as it was speculated that the transporter of the named illegal contraband was President Lungu’s personal Political Advisor, Kaizer Zulu at State House. On 31st January, 2018, the Zambian Observer named President Lungu and his daughter-Tasila Lungu to be personally involved and responsible in the illegal export of Mukulu Timber. “Corruption will never end in PF led government because it is championed by people in authority including the head of state himself. At 21:30 hours last night, 20 trucks, carrying Mukula logs arrived at Katima Mulilo Border Post in Sesheke en-route to Namibia under heavy police escort of about 4 vehicles”, the reporter stressed. Such revelations magnify president Lungu as a pompous plunderer and dangerous thief of public resources. This erodes all the political trust bestowed upon him by the voters as Head of State and Government. Thus, ‘Eagle One’ cannot afford to be silent about his ‘scaring riches’ visas such perceived corruption linkages to his office because Zambians legally deserve to know the truth.
- In 2017, President Lungu and his PF government controversially procured 42 fire engines at $1m (K10, 000,000) per truck, only to insure them at $25,000 (K250,000) The total cost poor Zambians paid through President Lungu to buy and insure these 42 fire trucks is K421, 050,000. Overtly, this is the most immoral, illogical, exploitative and expensive public procurement tender in the history of Zambia which cannot be ignored without proper answers from the president himself. By insisting that the concerned citizens were free to produce evidence if they suspected corruption in this procurement, President Lungu lacked empathy for the poor masses and failed to demonstrate good political stewardship as required from him in the Republican Constitution. Although the Anti-Corruption Commission was window dressed to hastily announce that the government followed the procurement procedure, many Zambians still believe that this immoral and abnormal procurement of 42 fire trucks had many dirty hands, gross bribes, crooked kickbacks and corrupt political beneficiaries. It is against this background that president Lungu need to come clean and exculpate himself on this matter as many angry and bleeding hearts still link his fast growing magic wealth to such corruption scandals and embezzlement practices.
- In 2017 again, President Lungu and his PF government authorized the procurement of 50 ambulances at $288,000 each amounting to over $11 million (K110,000,000) in total while, Toyota (Zambia), a globally renowned car manufacturer and dealer, submitted a quotation to supply the same items at about $70,000 but was allegedly turned down”. While Zambia is still a poor state and the majority citizens are living on less than 1 dollar each day amidst high levels of HIV/AIDS, malaria, cancers, cholera, hunger, malnutrition and GBV cases, it is notoriously sad and crucially unfortunate that their elected President has the luxury of purchasing the ‘most expensive goods and services’ for them as the case stand for these 50 ambulances. Was President Lungu an equal secret beneficially to this immoral looting of public resources and cruel plunder of tax payers’ money? Surely, poor Zambians and all the citizens across the country need clear answers from President Lungu as his inaction on overt corruption like in the case of these 50 ambulance seem to have a strong bearing on his fast growing abnormal wealth.
- President Lungu betrayed poor Zambians with moral malice and political impunity by spending K554, 000,000 (K 554 Billion unrebased) on 42 fire trucks and 50 ambulances in 2017 as already noted. These two known controversial public procurement tenders are huge moral and political transgressions against the Zambian poor and voters. Figuratively, this is what Lungu could have done with this K554, 000,000 if it was prudently spent. Based on data from State House itself for Fisenge Farm bloc Clinic in Luanshya, we now know that construction of a good rural clinic with a mortuary costs not more than K500, 000-the figure could be less if constructed by CSOs or donors. This means that President Lungu could have constructed more than 1,150 new modern clinics with inbuilt mortuaries in 2017 alone from the money spent on 42 fire trucks and 50 ambulances. We also know that building one classroom block for 120 pupils (4 semidetached classes) costs not more than K400, 000. This means that this K554, 000,000 would have built more than 1,400 blocks of classrooms in 2017 alone. Clearly, President Lungu violated the constitution, moral duty and hence betrayed the dear poor who now need to know why and how he arrived at such greedy decisions to buy ‘cheap wheelbarrows’ and ambulances when he could have improved the education, sanitation or health needed infrastructure for them. This becomes worse as his wealth seem to be becoming too abnormal every day.
- President Lungu exposed himself on the U$ 42 million dollars spend on 42 fire trucks by firing his former Minister of National Planning, Hon. Lucky Mulusa in December 2017 for openly criticizing him and his cabinet that they bought ‘cheap wheelbarrows’ for Zambians on abnormal prices and irreconcilable amounts. “No doubt about it, Lucky Mulusa was very close to the President. He was one of President Edgar Lungu’s confidantes. However, the $42 million fire tenders appears to have rattled the feathers. I think it brought to the fore personal identity issues and the clash of principles” Green Party President, Peter Sinkamba told Lusaka Times on 26th December, 2017. Hence, the case of President Lungu and Lucky Mulusa on the 42 fire trucks (cheap wheelbarrows) is another political reason why the Zambian Head of State need to redeem his name on his own without the Jericho wall of the immunity. In the absence of this exculpation, many Zambians will always link Lungu’s magna wealth to such corruption scandals and will remain betrayed and bitter in their hearts.
- The Zambian President must be questioned as to why he shields and cherishes corrupt Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and technocrats in his government. In itself, this is good political reason to warrant his personal exculpation now or wait for the worst. For example, President Lungu took no punitive actions against the Minister and Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Education when they publicly apologized before the Parliamentary Accounts Committee in 2017 for spending over K2, 700,000 (K2,7 Billion unrebased) to purchase one vehicle for the minister and office furniture. Which vehicle and office furniture is worth this amount? Common sense tells you that the Minister, Permanent Secretary and technocrats involved stole tax payers’ money with malice and impunity. ‘Eagle One’ knows all the facts about this malicious looting at the Ministry of Education and just kept pretty mute about it. It is clear President Lungu does not hate corruption; he loves it and smiles in the face of open plunder of public resources and betrays the core constitutional values of political integrity, dignity, Christianity and good governance. In this democracy, this calls for his exculpation.
- The aforesaid under number 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,7 and 8 were all validated by Hon. Chishimba Kambwili, PF Roan MP and former Minister of Information who on December 28, 2017, told the Mast Newspaper that “What the PF have achieved in 2017 is just corruption. The President has shown no political will to fight corruption. Most leaders have become rich without have anything to show for their richness. This has been the year that most corruption has been committed in the history of Zambia and it’s under the PF and its leader Edgar Lungu”. While President Lungu’s wealth is racing to touch the sky every day and week, it is only fair and professional to stress that Hon. Kambwili’s observations pragmatically crucify ‘Eagle One’ to the extent that it must not be undermined or ignored as he implied that the Head of State and Government is stealing with malice and impunity. The President needs to redeem his political name and cleanse his republican office.
- On 2nd January, 2018, then Minister of Foreign Affairs, PF Bahati MP, Hon. Harry Kalaba, in his resignation letter to the President Lungu revealed among other reasons that “we cannot proceed to manage national affairs with cold indifference when the levels of corruption are swelling and being perpetrated by those who are expected to be the solution”. In simple words, Hon. Kalaba was simply reconfirming that he resigned on morally grounds as his boss, President Lungu was perpetuating and was at the center of corruption. The President should surely account for these aggravated accusations of corruption in relation to his amazing fast growing wealth. In fact, in the moral or Christian court of Zambians, Hon. Kalaba and President Lungu need to be given a cross examination in order to appreciate some of the specific cases of corruption in question. Is it the 42 fire tenders, 50 ambulances, mukula timber trucks or the huge financial irregularities coming from the Auditor General’s Reports? Which corruption cases involving President Lungu compelled Hon. Kalaba to resign? Poor Zambians and tax payers need to know the truth because we are talking about their resources being plundered and looted day light. Such issues can only be digested if President Lungu’s immunity is lifted and he is personally made to answer and account for each and every corruption allegation around his neck.
- President Lungu’s government has been the worst plunderer and looter of public resources in the history of Zambia. The 2013-2016 Reports from the Auditor General’s office validates these assertions (see our summary table on afrodemocracyjournal.wordpress.org under the article “How to fool and betray poor African voters: the case of Zambia’s Lungu on corruption”). For example, according to a Press Statement released on 12th January, 2018 by Ellen Chikale, Public Relations Manager at the Auditor General office of Parastatal Bodies and other Statutory Institutions for the financial year ended 31st December 2015, questionable payments were found to be at K23, 733, 573; unaccounted for stores at K20, 245, 512; Unsupported payments at K5, 557, 547 while failure to recover loans was at K4, 394, 978 respectively. All these huge irregularities and growing embezzlements are happening against the background of President’s fast growing wealth. Without proper answers from the President himself and the fact that ‘Eagle One’ does not suspend or fire any Minister or PSs on overt corruption grounds, Zambians will continue to be worried about their money in relation to Lungu’s ‘weekly growing miracle riches’.
- President Lungu’s consistent corruption allegations make him constitutionally unfit and political disqualified to continue holding this office without proper fiscal accountability and political exculpation of his amazing wealth and gross embezzlement suspicions. Among ‘Executive functions of President’, Article 92. (1) of the Zambian Supreme Law states that “the President shall perform, with dignity, leadership and integrity, the acts that are necessary and expedient for, or reasonably incidental to, the exercise of the executive authority”. Based on the aforesaid, President Lungu has clearly lost the expected political dignity and leadership integrity in the eyes of the public and needs to redeem it after formal political cleansing and judicial exculpation.
- We aware that our Republican Constitution has a ‘Protection of President from legal proceedings’ under Article 98. (1) and (2) respectively which states that “A person shall not institute or continue civil proceedings against the President or a person performing executive functions, as provided in Article 109, in respect of anything done or omitted to be done by the President or that person in their private capacity during the tenure of office as President; The President shall not, in the President’s private capacity during the tenure of office as President, institute or continue civil proceedings against a person”. But President Lungu’s corruption cases are too many and serious such that they cannot delay or wait until he leaves office. In this legally novel and politically fragile circumstance, a special tribunal of competent judges can be sanctioned by the Chief Justice following a deliberation and recommendation from the National Assembly. This is what will save and redeem Zambians for now. As an elected President, Zambians deserve proper clarity on all these issues as President Lungu is their political servant, not boss. The corruption allegations around him are too multiple while his abnormal and historical accumulation of wealth equally need convincing answers. In a democracy, a political leader must be held accountable, for Lungu the time is now as this will act as a deterrent to future presidents and cement the foundations of our democracy and good governance.
In conclusion, it is true to stress that, if a political leader steals for the poor, he/she shall receive mercy both before God and fellow man. This is because, those who steal for the poor do so for the benefits of the poor and with the best interest of the poor; they have the poor at heart. For example, in the ancient Roman Empire or medieval Zulu Kingdom, Julius Caesar and Shaka Zulu respectively both on many occasions plundered the enemy resources and stole for and on behalf of their poor masses. But many modern African political leaders are doing the opposite. They are stealing from the poor for their own personal interest and benefits. These are too evil to the extent that they shall not receive mercy both from God and fellow man as the poor only survive to see another day by God’s grace. Thus, political leaders who steal from the poor via looting of public resources in poor states commit crimes against humanity, not different from genocide or war crimes. This is why President Lungu’s immunity must be temporally suspended or lifted so that he politically cleanses himself before the Zambians from all these ‘crimes against humanity’ of corruption. If he is found clean and innocent, then Lungu’s presidential immunity will certainly be restored as the case of Rupiah Banda in 2015.