STEALING STATE GOLD IN THE NAME OF GOD: THE CASE OF PRESIDENT EDGAR LUNGU IN ZAMBIA

President Lungu reading the BibleAfrica is still underdeveloped and suffering from absolute poverty. This is not news in Togo, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Zambia, Cameroon, DR Congo, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Algeria, Ghana, Senegal, Ethiopia, Burundi, Egypt, Mozambique, Kenya, Mali, Chad, Uganda or Angola. One of the key reasons for this dark reality is rampant corruption as political leaders loot and plunder public resources with impunity. In many instances, these corrupt African leaders steal public resources while presenting themselves as children of God and devoted believers.  In Zambia, President Edgar Lungu, his government and party officials present a classical example of how to steal state gold (public resources) in the name of God as follows:

While claiming to be a law abiding citizen and Christian, Lungu has started campaigning for 2021, an act which is against electoral laws and regulations by printing and distributing more than 6,000,000 school books branded with his portrait countrywide. While the PF have justified this project, the Zambia Civic Education Association (ZCEA) has denounced the act by calling it “a mischievous form of charlatanism and the worst form of exploitation to use vulnerable, helpless and hopeless children to advance one’s political hegemony”. Ironically, no one knows the sources of funding for this huge presidential project.

Although he promised to empower the poor as a Christian himself in his inauguration Speech on 13th September 2016, Lungu has mainly empowered himself. For example, while he declared to be worth K2.5 million in January 2015 to the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), Lungu declared to be worth over K23 million in July, 2016 before the Presidential and General Elections. Lungu’s ‘miracle wealth’ came as a shock among fellow Christians as the President’s monthly salary is only K36,000 and he was not known to be into any serious business.

Despite laying a foundation for the construction of a state Christian cathedral in Woodlands as a Christian leader, Lungu is alleged to be working with the ‘corrupt Guptas Family’ which has captured the State- a Chinese Construction firm awarded most contracts to build major roads and public infrastructure countrywide. In return, this Chinese company is allegedly building luxury houses, flats, casinos, hotels, lodges, etc for President Lungu and his officials as a token of appreciation.

Although he has the controversial Ministry of Religious Affairs (practically Ministry of Christianity) with an ordained Church Reverend as its Cabinet Minister,  Lungu seems to cherish corruption and does not suspend or fire any of his appointees on this merit. 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. 7 million to purchase one vehicle for the minister and office furniture.

While defending the Christian Declaration and values as provided in the Republican Constitution, on 10th February, 2018, President Lungu openly encouraged civil servants to continue engaging in theft by public servant when he said: “ubomba mwibala alila mwibala”- meaning “he who works in the cornfield eats what is in the cornfield” i.e. officially introducing kleptocracy (rule by theft) in Zambia.

Lungu is also alleged to be involved in the illegal export of lucrative Mukula with his daughter and State House officials. He has also created the Presidential Empowerment Fund, a parallel structure that is donating unaudited funds to marketeers and churches in his name while no one knows who funds it, how, where, why and when.

 While he officially declared October 18 as a Public Holiday – National Day of Prayers and Reconciliation in order to uphold Christianity, Lungu’s government approved the  controversial public procurement deal – the 42 fire trucks purchased at $1m each (K10, 000,000) and insured at $25,000 (K250,000), totaling U$52.5 million per unit.

 In trying to show solidarity with the Christian poor, Lungu publicly denounced the legal provision of being a beneficiary of the former president house entitlement. To the contrary, President Lungu, in 2017 endorsed another corrupt procurement deal 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 each but was allegedly turned down”.

While Lungu promised to govern Zambia on pro poor policies as a Christian, his ‘Christian government’ has done the opposite – increased PAYE to 37.5%, introduction of estate levy, road toll fees, proposed national health taxes, increased fuel and electricity tariffs, among others.

While Lungu promised to govern Zambia on pro poor policies as a Christian, his ‘Christian government’ has done the opposite; increased PAYE to 37.5%, landlord withholding tax, road toll fees, fuel levy, road tax, proposed national health taxes, increased fuel and electricity tariffs among others.

In conclusion, when you critically analyze all the aforesaid facts, it is not premature to generalize that Lungu is trading on the Christian superstition of many Zambians and presents himself as a fellow child of God while his favorite style of governance is “ubomba mwibala alila mwibala” i.e. ‘kleptocracy’- (rule by theft). Thus, President Lungu is crookedly using the Christian posture to steal gold in the name of God; but he must remember the story of Anania and Saphilar in the Bible.

 By: Chris Zumani Zimba, a Political Scientist, Author, PhD Scholar, Lecturer and Consultant.

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