Prof. Michelo Hansungule
The influx of the Chinese in Zambia is due to high levels of corruption at the heart of government itself coupled with serious experience deficit in Edgar Lungu’s government. No one should blame the Chinese or their government but these terrorists running government in Zambia. Zambians must wake up. Edgar Lungu cannot be trusted to run government.
I have spoken to several senior government officials in various African countries to establish whether they too are experiencing this challenge of Chinese influx in every aspect of life and I get the same answer; this is clear manifestation of high levels of corruption in government and complete government failure.
In conditions in which government is on a frenzy to borrow literary pilling debt tock on top of mountains of debt, where does this leave the budget? True, governments, institutions and even individuals borrow for various purposes. So borrowing is not wrong in itself.
But in Zambia, government borrows ostensibly to fund corruption, projects are used as an excuse. Corruption and lack of experience of running government are behind the challenge we are facing. Because of corruption, government ignores the clear provisions of the constitution on how to contract public debts? There has been too much corruption in this government.
In developed countries oftentimes they borrow from themselves. Below are examples of what it means to ‘borrow to yourself’?
Two weeks after I arrived in Lund, the University hosted a welcome dinner for me. At the dinner, the University of Lund Vice Chancellor, a professor of law, spoke welcoming me. So did others including the director of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute.
A week or two after, I jumped into a bus to the University from my home. As it was rush hour, the bus was full. I stood behind. A lady was waving at us at the back. As I was new in the two and the only black in the bus, I was sure she was not waving at me and so I ignored her. She waved again, this time I together with others next to me looked behind, thinking she was waving at someone behind us. She waved a third time and again we looked behind………
When we reached the University bus stop, I descended from the back door and the lady descended from the front door. Soon after she descended, she came straight towards me asking, ‘have you forgotten me, I know you’ve forgotten me…..I responded in the affirmative, that indeed I could not remember her? In my heart, I was sure she had mistaken me for someone.
But she reminded me she was Vice Chancellor of the University of Lund, had come to my welcoming dinner and made a speech welcoming me….. Oh yes, I now remember you madam, sorry I had forgotten but what are you doing in a bus, I asked? She laughed and said she fully understood my surprise. She said she has been to Africa and she knows that in Africa, Vice Chancellor is a very big government job carrying a free car, big University house, servants and various pecks. In Sweden, Vice Chancellor carries none of such pecks. University money is strictly for the university education. She had no University car, no University house, certainly no servants or other pecks. She said her husband was an architect and he needed their car more than her hence she comes to the University on bicycle, bus, train or by walking. It was a wake-up call for me.
One morning, I was flying from Malmo to Stockholm to present a paper at a workshop. At Malmo airport, three or four white people sat next to me started asking me what my name was, where I came from, what I was doing in Sweden, etc? As I was deep in thought thinking about the workshop, I wasn’t really following their questions but I noticed a group of other passengers not far from us looking at us clearly talking about us and laughing but I ignored them too. One of the four passengers next to me gave me his card and off we boarded the plane without my reading the card. At Stockholm, some of the passengers that were looking at us approached me and asked like the previous passengers asked me my name, where I came from and ‘whether I was president of an African country’ which really shocked me. I asked them why they thought I was president? They said because they saw me in Malmo talking to the Swedish Prime Minister, I denied speaking to their prime minister but quickly went into my pocket and pulled out the business card, indeed it was the prime minister’s card. I was deeply embarrassed given my attitude at Malmo Airport. The point is imagine this simplicity. Prime Minister freely mixing with ordinary mortals, just imagine?
Three four years ago, I was flying from Windhoek to Johannesburg. Usually, I take isle seat but this time I was very late for the airport and found all isle seats taken. I had forgotten to check in online. Unfortunately, I was given middle seat, the worst to me but had no option which I did not really mind because the flight to Johannesburg was less than an hour.
In my economy class, I was sandwiched between two white men, the one on the window seat did not appear friendly so I ignored him. The one on the isle seat, however, appeared friendly and I greeted him. I then asked him whether he was a pilot to which he laughed and asked me why I thought so? I told him his suit appeared that of pilots, again he laughed this time loudly. ‘No my friend, I am not a pilot, I am Belgium Ambassador to South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique and Zimbabwe’. ‘I just came from meeting president Geigog in Windhoek………’.
‘My sincere apologies Your Excellency,’ I shyly told him. ‘Oh no, please don’t call me ‘Excellency, my name is ……..’, and I told him mine, we exchanged cards. I then asked him ‘ but what are you doing in economy class? You are supposed to be in Business class? He laughed and said ‘I know, in fact, I found two permanent secretaries from SADC countries in the Business Class as I was coming to my seat. In Belgium, it is policy for all of us senior government officials save for the Belgium Prime Minister to use economy class. Those we give money in developing countries use Business Class’. He has since been my friend.
Then I met late Galaun, most would agree ‘owner of Lusaka’ given the vast business empire he owned in Lusaka. This time, I was flying from Johannesburg to Lusaka and the plane was delayed a little bit. They announced that they were waiting for two passengers and shortly after came the two passengers, the late Mr and Mrs Galaun, were given three seats not far from my seat at the back of the economy class. I greeted them and again asked why given who they were and in view of their condition they were not in Business Class? There were at least Zambian government two permanent secretaries and a minister in Business Class in that aircraft. While his wife laughed, Mr. Galaun said ‘those government officials in Business Class did not work for the money they are using…….’.
Nelson Mandela’s Minister of Justice, his lawyer on Robben Island Dullar Omar, came to open two of my workshops in South Africa in his old Volvo Car. I asked colleagues who knew him whether that was ministerial car and they laughed then asked me to find out from him and I did? He told me he had that car for over thirty years while in his practice. He said when he was appointed minister which he had rejected but Mandela would hear none of it, he rejected government car and big house preferring his car and a smaller house since he was shifting to Pretoria from Cape Town. He said he did not understand why h was allocated a big house of over five bedrooms in Pretoria yet he would be alone as his family was in Cape Town. Even if his family had joined him, he would still reject the house which he found too big.
The World Bank reports that Botswana’s GDP per capita at about 7,000 USD is one of the highest on the African continent yet it is policy in Botswana that cabinet ministers fly economy class. Have you seen the salaries of Botswana ministers and members of Parliament? They are among the lowest paid public officials in Africa.
In Rwanda, only five people – the president, Senate president, Speaker of Parliament, Prime Minister and Chief Justice, are entitled to personal-to-holder cars. Ministers, members of parliament and senior government officials are not allocated government cars for personal to holder. Rather, government offers them loans to buy own cars or use their own cars they owned before they were appointed to government positions.
At the Center for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, we invited former president of Mozambique Joachim Chisano a few years ago to fly to Kampala to give a keynote address to an occasion organized to commemorate the passing of one of our former students from Uganda. He had been short dead while on peace keeping mission in Somalia. After he accepted the invitation, we booked his ticket business class Maputo – Entebbe – Maputo. However, president Chisano told us to book him economy and that he was fine with that.
In his book ‘My Life’, Bill Clinton reveals how America’s richest man drove to the Oval Office to see him in his old truck he had been driving in even before he became rich. There are many such puzzling stories. There are plenty of stories of both rich and not rich people living normal lives.
My best friend in Lusaka has three new cars which are always packed as he prefers to use public transport. Whenever I am in Lusaka, we use public transport to get to our places. Of course it is cheaper and just human. You get to connect with fellow human beings.
Three to four years ago at a conference of SADC Chief Justices and their judges including those from Uganda and Kenya, held at the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, I made judges laugh when I suggested that given their jobs which required sitting most of the time they did not need cars let alone luxury to get to work and home but to walk. That walking was good for their health. This sent all of them into uncontrollable laughter.
Current IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde usually walks to and from work and look at how she looks, very fit.
In Stockholm, the Chief Justice of Sweden came to a SIDA meeting I attended on a bicycle sweating and apologizing he was late. Among other things, that meeting was discussing Uganda judiciary request for funding for judicial training and manpower development. Before the meeting started, I warned the Judge from Uganda who had come to represent the Uganda judiciary that he was overdressed for the meeting. He was dressed in a suit with a tie. He ignored me. When we went into the meeting, he was the only one in a suit yet asking for money. He turned to me at break and blamed me for not insisting enough that he should dress simply.
And look at how security forces are abused? A friend visiting Zambia asked me ‘is Zambia at war’? I asked him why and he told me he saw lots of fast running military and non military vehicles escorting the president from the airport while police lined up the road all the way from the airport to State House? I just said welcome to Zambia.
In one African country, I was introduced to the president at Church. After greetings, I asked him why he came to Church with guns, and whether he was aiming at shooting dead Jesus Christ? He did not answer and his minders were clearly not amused. But the host priest later after the president left amid guns pointing in different directions whispered to me that that was the best question he had ever heard since he joined priesthood. He however hoped nothing bad would happen to me and offered to pray for me.
Last Friday, government unveiled [their] budget, I say [their] in brackets because it is not yours. Most of the money will go to corruption and towards payment of corruption deals. Part of it will go towards sustaining a huge corrupt and purely unproductive political elite cynically given as ‘conditions of service’. Have you ever considered how much money government pays each time for hundreds of government and party officials to go to the airport to receive the president or send him off not only to a foreign country but even to a visit within the country? I think we are just fools. Why should you go to the airport because the president is going to Addis Ababa to attend the African Union and when he returns?
The budget is for sustaining the lifestyles of terrorists in government, not ordinary Zambians. Instead of spending on health needs, they will abuse your money to sustain their terrorist lives. It is terrorism to spend money on yourself and your family instead of sustaining lives. Education system is as good as dead yet government budgets for new cars, for maintenance of those cars and houses and huge allowances and frequently raised yet already high salaries for the president and political cronies. Whenever anyone dies due to lack of medicine or qualified staff in hospitals, they have been killed by acts of terrorism. They terrorise the poor, the very people that vote for them, stealing their resources effectively sending them to their graves while they enjoyed from ill gotten wealth.
I challenge government to rebut my accusation? Lots of money has been stolen through corruption by this government and I challenge government up set up an international audit to audit government since it came to power? If I am proven wrong, they must go to the highest mountain in Zambia and condemn me.
Zambia has no leaders, there are just terrorists!