If first republican President Kenneth Kaunda—a teetotaler—discovered that the government he once guarded jealously against ‘functional Alcoholics’ is now largely being run from a bar, he would weep.
Frederick Chiluba—yet another teetotaler—would equally weep, as Mwanawasa who respected the bar—not the beer hole—would break down too.
Many pundits and independent analysts believe State House today has never been so debased, so defiled and so demeaned as alcoholism takes its toll.
Many also believe it’s hardly President Rupiah Banda’s fault but that of his lieutenants.
They are increasingly running government from the Bar. This is not the Mwanawasa favored bar.
It’s not from Lusaka’s famous elitist Traven’s such as Portico, Polo Grill and Makumbi Restaurant at Lusaka’s Inter Continental.
When the influential Intelligence service complained that so many top secret documents were either found ‘jay walking’, found strewn all over bar tables and in car hoods, the goons at State House, in a bid to cover their dirty tracks and shut the peering eyes of the Special branch, opened their own private binge house.
It’s called The Residence, probably ignorantly inspired by the movie Resident Evil, which in fact would have been more apt looking at what goes on there.
Situated in Lusaka’s showground’s, it is believed to be owned by James Banda a.k.a Jimbo and his Weasel Side-Kick Dickson Jere, State House Spokesperson.
The Bar runs smoothly courtesy of limitless stocks of intoxicating beverages believed to be lent to it by State House, right or wrong.
But the private bar is not favored by all State House big guns.
State House Chief of Staff Dr. Austin Sichinga for instance prefers the roomy and airy Polo Grill, which he visits as early as 9am or as late as 3pm.
He is often joined by Bob Samakai, Chief of Protocol, Joseph Jhalasi, head of Legal Affairs and a band of woman who have a strong semblance with women from the oldest profession in the world.
Dickson Jere on the other hand usually joins Jimbo at The Residence for a cigar and large quantities of whiskey or whatever is on the take. He is the Resident Evil. The proverbial poor country boy from Matero that struck gold from zero to hero.
Campaign discussions, appointments (which fetch as high as $50,000.00 or more) and government contracts are discussed and decided over whiskies.
Jere, who has been ‘sacked’ once for alleged ‘incompetence’ and ‘abuse of office’, has remained at State House for this reason apparently.
He is the little Sniffer Dog that passes on information on who is selling ‘this’ and who is buying ‘that.’ A Mole who tells the ‘pack’ what deal is coming up so they can muscle themselves in just like in the wild.
The drunken masters then decide what to take and what to leave. This is cleverly placed on the presidents table and becomes an agenda item the next day. Just like that contracts are awarded or rejected, new heroes are created and others disappointed.
JIMBO THE REAL POWER BEHIND RB AND THE FORCE BEHIND THE NEW CORRUPTION
Once upon a time, there was James Banda, a non-descript benign “not so confident” typical boy next door who was trying to become a businessman in the harsh Lusaka Jungle.
He tried his luck at several business ventures starting from Salaula, fish, maize; you name it he tried it all but it wasn’t working.
He even tried to become a soccer promoter like his new hero, the estranged Congolese tycoon Moise Katumbi (T. P Mazembe FC owner) who made his money under highly questionable circumstances in Zambia. He is now Katanga Governor.
For some reason, every door he ever knocked was locked and every gun he ever tried went off.
Jimbo hit brick wall after brick wall; he was the typical loser that kept trying to squeeze milk out of a stone.
But things were not to remain bad for Jimbo forever thanks to a mere twist of fate that saw his father, a retired politician that got dragged back into political fray by an equally not-so-confident Levy Mwanawasa, a weakling President who wanted a ‘plain’ and unassuming and unquestioning number two after some ruffled feathers with charismatic and flamboyant Nevers Mumba.
As soon as his father became Mwanawasa’s side-kick, James experienced a major change of fortune. He suddenly became a brilliant entrepreneur. Everyone wanted to do business with him.
Thus started his meteoric but corrupt rise and now sits on a net-worth assets and cash in excess $10million amassed in about two years, he could enter the Guinness book of records for his miraculous rise to the top. He has told more than a dozen admirers about his new wealth.
And people say Chiluba was corrupt! The dizzying deals associated with the Banda’s makes Chiluba’s corruption look like Kindergarten games.
The $375M Zamtel cupped it all. With Commissions dolled out to Rupiah Banda, his sons, and the $13m spread to all underlings involved in the deal including Dora Siliya and Dickson Jere.
Dora whose financial woes are known, all of a sudden could now have millions to throw on her famous 40th Birthday at the upmarket glitz and glamour Pamodzi Hotel, a plush house in Sandton, Johannesburg and a new Land Rover straight out of the show room.
Her political accent changed and influential politicians like Fr Frank Bwalya (in picture below) suddenly became ‘small’ politicians who should stick to the ‘cloth’.
Irate people that called to register their displeasure regarding one socio-economic political issue or another on radio suddenly stopped making sense to her; they were ‘throwing tantrums.”
Back to Jimbo though. Jimbo is now the man to talk to if you wanted to sell anything from cell phone gadgets, fertilizer, road contracts, oil and now even the mines.
Raubex Construction owned by his ‘on and off’ friend Joseph Mwewa has been given road contracts worth a whooping US$150million.
President Banda sourced this money hoping the roads could be completed in a period of under a year in order to bolster support for himself and his party ahead of the elections this year.
This will not happen though due to the simple reason that Mwewa has no capacity to deliver half the job he has signed up but that is not a problem because his contractors are aware of this fact too.
They are not very interested in the roads being built at all—they are interested in the commission he can give back after being paid.
James has become the real Jimbo. The man who makes it happen. The man you see if you want to see the man.
Women love him; some men want to be either him or his cousin. He is the direct opposite of President Banda’s oldest son Andrew, the diplomat based in Italy, a humble man liked even by the opposition and private press.
Jimbo put together the Baluba deal (sale of Luanshya Mines to the Chinaman who won’t pay tax for the next 15 years as over worked miners go home with pea nuts) where some millions of dollars allegedly exchanged hands.
The outrageous US$53million mobile hospitals rejected by many Zambia, another cut from there.
His team swears to God President Banda has brought about more development than any other President after the return to multiparty politics but that’s a fallacy.
In two years, however, it appears they have stolen twice more than they have brought in and are likely to sink Zambia in a bottom less pit of debt before anyone can say ha!
Jimbo cannot be ignored now. In terms of life style, Jimbo lives what many simply dream of. It is a first class red carpet life. The only difference is it is being subsidized by ill gotten public wealth.
Recently he caused a sensation when he made an outright cash purchase of a Mercedes Benz S600 (worth $250,000.00), a BMW X6 ($120,000.00) for his girlfriend and innumerable lush gifts of expensive cars and houses for his many wives.
Jimbo is in now playing in the same league with sons of African dictators notorious for luxurious lifestyles, extravagant expenditures that represented the rot and extent of corruption their fathers had been involved in.
But this was the period when “Big Men” reigned and the West’s interests in Africa were not focused on good governance but mainly on raping the mineral resources such as copper gold, uranium you name it.
Poverty levels in general were also much lower than the current more than 70 percent levels existing in Zambia for example.
It is therefore surprising that in this modern day and age of anti-corruption and intense calls for good governance, any president will engage in corruption, let alone his lieutenants and children when lessons on how such acts are being dealt with are many in the region and beyond.
Corrupt children and their parents are canned together with parents as the case is just next door in Egypt and Libya.
Recently, anti-corruption and human rights groups were outraged when the son of President of Equatorial Guinea, Nguema, and Theodore Obiang Nguema ordered a Yacht worth $396m.
Nguema whose lifestyle is financed from the country’s stolen oil revenue has a $35m house in California, owns premier sports cars such as Lamborghini, Buggatti Veyron, Ferraris and Porsches.
That is why James is attracting concerns even from President Banda’s loyalists, who feel they could lose elections on account of the King’s son, the dark prince. The Special Branch is worried too.
What is the difference between what is happening in the Zambian first family from what was happening during the rotten rule of the King of Kleptocracy (Mobutu sese Seko) in Zaire while masses starved?
The King of Kleptocracy chartered Boeing 747’s and Concorde’s to just transport champagne and fresh caviar for his daughter’s wedding when she was marrying some happy go lucky French opportunist at Ggabadolite.
The pampered son in law was given a wedding gift of $300,000 stuffed in a brown envelope plus a $70,000 designer wrist watch as 90 percent of Congolese wallowed in abject poverty. Could this be what is creeping into Zambia under the Banda regime?
Where a few people fly first class to go and watch the Formula One race they even don’t understand just for the heck of it?
Party loyalists are concerned that Jimbo, through his lavish lifestyle and sketchy connections will help bury his father’s thin dreams for a second term of office.
They are worried that if this regime returns to power, its leadership will spend the entire term lining up its pockets with ill-gotten wealth and paying back campaign favors through shoddy contract awards.
They are worried that if this regime returns to power, sub standard constructors such as Mwewa shall continue to grow from strength to strength.
They will continue getting contracts for jobs they don’t necessarily have to do as long as they share the spoils.
In the end, Zambia like Mobutu’s Zaire could change its motto from One Zambia One Nation to Donnez-Moi de l’argent, which is French for Give Me Some Money, make that corruptly obtained money.