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Frightening levels of extravagance

Public anger at the extravagance of Edgar Lungu and his minions is growing.

The news media outlets are not running short of new revelations of this government’s waste.
Zambia spending US$400 million on high-tech aviation equipment from Israel is unacceptable extravagance. The deal is believed to include a new presidential jet, Sukhoi SSJ regional jet airliner with a luxury specification suitable for a head of state. This is unjustified expenditure, given our debt crisis and the very high poverty levels in our country.

Do we really need to spend this type of money on Skylark mini-drones, F-5 supersonic jet fighters? Do we really need a presidential jet equipped with Elbit’s MUSIC anti-missile system, which fires lasers at incoming heat-seeking missiles? Isn’t this insanity?
They have no restraint in spending money or using public resources. Their reckless extravagance with taxpayers money is frightening.
There are people in a poor country such as ours who would rate $400 million as relatively small beer.
Edgar and his minions are signing off projects weighed in millions and billions, not mere thousands.
What’s the problem, then, when we learn that almost $400 million has been spent by this government on a variety of gadgets from Israel?
The problem is that
people such as the 82.2 per cent in Western Province, 81.1 per cent in Luapula Province, 79.7 per cent in Northern Province, 70 per cent in Eastern Province, 69.3 per cent in Muchinga Province, 66.4 per cent in North Western Province, 57.6 per cent in Southern Province, 56.2 per cent in Central Province, 30.8 per cent on the Copperbelt and 20.2 per cent in Lusaka who live below the poverty line might reasonably ask why Edgar is spending such amounts of money on such unimportant things
than improving their poor lives.

Extravagance seems to be part of governance in a societies where corruption is not only a fact of life but a way of living. They always have to find ways of spending public funds so that in the process, some money is stolen. Without such unquestionable expenditure, stealing becomes difficult. They are not looking for ways to save money, but are always in a hurry to find ways of spending public funds. Why? So that they can get kickbacks, cuts, commissions. A kickback is a form of negotiated bribery in which a commission is paid to the bribe-taker in exchange for services rendered. Generally speaking, the remuneration – money, goods, or services handed over – is negotiated ahead of time. The kickback varies from other kinds of bribes in that there is implied collusion between agents of the two parties, rather than one party extorting the bribe from the other. The purpose of the kickback is usually to encourage the other party to cooperate in the illegal scheme.

The term “kickback” comes from colloquial English language, and describes the way a recipient of illegal gain “kicks back” a portion of it to another person for that person’s assistance in obtaining it.
The most common form of kickback involves a vendor submitting a fraudulent or inflated invoice – often for goods or services which were not needed, of inferior quality, or both.
Kickbacks are one of the most common forms of government corruption. In some cases, the kickback takes the form of a “cut of the action,” and can be so well known as to be common knowledge —and even become part of a nation’s culture. We now have leaders publicly known as Mr Ten or Mr Fifteen Per Cent because they require that all major contracts throughout the nation provide them with 10 or 15 per cent of the income before they are approved.
However, kickbacks differ from other forms of corruption, such as diversion of assets, as in embezzlement, because of the collusion between two parties.
Kickback schemes can be pervasive.
We must see to it that all our leaders bear in mind that ours is an economically poor country. To move our people out of poverty, Zambia will need several decades of intense effort, which will include, among other things, the effort to practice strict economy and combat extravagance, that is, the policy of building up our country through diligence and frugality.
Diligence and frugality should be practiced in running government and state affairs. The principle of diligence and frugality should be observed in everything. Zambia has immense natural resources, but she is still very poor. It will take several decades to make Zambia prosperous. Even then, we will still have to observe the principle of diligence and frugality. We must pay special attention to economy.
We must not take a short view and indulge in wastefulness and extravagance.
We must pay attention to thrift and economy. Thrift should be the guiding principle in our government expenditure.
A dangerous tendency has shown itself of late among many of our leaders – an unwillingness to share the hardships of the masses, a concern for personal gain, wealth. This is very bad.

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