Bowman Lusambo’s Donations: Politicians, sudden wealth, and theft

In their 1980s song “mwaina shani”, the Serenje Kalindula Band penned words that remain extremely relevant today. In their usual Serenje Lala, they ask one another how some politicians looked so excellent and affluent, and yet the country had no money, and the economy was performing poorly. Mr Nkandu and his band were asking: where have the politicians gotten so much money when there is none in the treasury? Mwaina shani? “Nga wasanga ifya ina mu Lusaka, ninshi nifi kabwalala.” And then the song continues, “Mufitwale ku Serenje Police, baka fipushe bwino bakapokola.” Of course, the Serenje Police line is for rhetorical reasons.


In view of the donations Mr Bowman Lusambo did in his constituency, we ask the questions Mr. Nkandu asked decades ago? What is the source of the money Mr Lusambo has suddenly acquired? “Mwaina shani ba tata, mwebaleiba icuma ca calo”?


Money has a source. Every single ngwee or kwacha must come from somewhere. Money doesn’t just show up. Even miracle money has a source. Our question for Mr Lusambo is fundamental and simple: where did you get the thousands you claim to have donated to your constituents? I do not expect to receive a logical answer from Mr Lusambo. He most probably does not have any rational explanation for it. In the absence of such an account, I am left with speculation.


The first source could be that the money just showed up at his doorsteps and he decided to donate some of it to Kabushi. This is so bizarre that it cannot possibly happen. Very rarely does money show up at anyone’s doorsteps. This explanation must be wholly discounted.


The second plausible explanation is that Mr Lusambo donated out of the excess of his salary. Cabinet ministers do not earn much from their wages. Not even senior civil servants whose salaries are much higher than cabinet ministers can be able to save, in two years, the kind of wealth Mr Lusambo is flaunting around. His salary cannot be the source of the wealth Mr Lusambo is splashing. The yearly salary for the so-called constitutional office holders ranges from K200,000.00 to K500,000.00 per year. Even if we doubled that figure to account for some other perks, there is no way one can have an extra million in two years to flaunt around.


The third plausible explanation is that Mr Lusambo got this wealth from running a business or two. We have a simple question: what corporation or company Mr Lusambo runs to give him so much wealth in such a short time. Every entrepreneur I have met has explained to me the cycles of their businesses. I am an entrepreneur myself. Very rarely does a company make a profit in the first or second year. At least not for as much as Mr Lusambo’s wealth claims. Mr Lusambo can do Zambians a favour by telling us which companies he runs. Is it in manufacturing? If so, what does he manufacture? Is it trade? If so, what does he trade in? Is it mining? If so, which mine and where is it? Is it contracts for construction? This may be a possibility and I will return to it later. Is it supplying? If so, where does he supply stuff and what stuff exactly?


The fourth plausible explanation is that unexplained well-wishers gave him the money that he is now in turn “donating”. If this is the case, can Mr Lusambo come clean and tell Zambians which well-wishers gave him the millions he is claiming to donate. What kind of well-wishers are these? Are they business people? Politicians or those trying to curry favour with the political class?


Having no plausible explanation for the sudden increase in his wealth, there is only one explanation that could have some currency. Mr Bowman Lusambo could have stolen millions from the Zambian government either directly or indirectly through corruption and mismanagement of public funds. The only plausible source of Mr Lusambo’s wealth is the public purse or a combination of the public purse and some fraudulent means used to divert public funds to his own pocket. This is the only explanation we can find.


This explains the need for a lifestyle audit of public officials in Zambia. You cannot be a poor peasant in 2017, and by 2019 you have a million kwacha to flaunt around. A lifestyle audit is needed so that suspected plunderers and thieves like Mr Bowman Lusambo can explain the source of their sudden wealth.


When we say we suspect that Bowman Lusambo is a thief, we are using common sense. We have not gone into detail analysing evidence behind the curtains. We are merely using the simple gift of God known as “common sense” to add 1 plus 1 together and find that there can only be one source of this wealth: theft and corruption. Having called Mr Lusambo a thief and a shameless thief for that matter, we await Mr Lusambo’s next act: to give us a run-down of how he acquired his wealth, how much he is worth now, and how much he was worth in 2017 before receiving political power. Only, maybe after we have seen his balance sheet are we going to withdraw our common sense allegation that Mr Lusambo and his ilk are stealing from the Zambian treasury through false contracts, and mismanagement of the country’s affairs. The Serenje Kalindula asked a pertinent question: what is the source of your wealth?


The author can be reached at elias@munshyalaw.com. This email address is sufficient to serve any court papers should Mr Lusambo decide to take us to court for saying that our common sense tells us he is a shameless thief.

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