Not so long ago,it was “revealed” that government has started building a retirement house for President Sata in New Kasama, near State Lodge in Lusaka. This project is said to have taken-off sometime in April this year. I may not be sure about the accuracy of this story but let us assume it is; then it defies logic!
How can the PF government hastily commence construction of President Sata’s retirement house when it is yet to do the same for his three predecessors namely Chiluba, Mwanawasa and Banda? How come President Sata has jumped the queue? And above all, isn’t he still remaining with four or nine more years (unless he won’t run for a second term) before he ceases to be a bonafide resident of plot 1 Independence Avenue? Lest readers miss the point; the purpose of this article isn’t to question the criteria being used to build retirement homes for former presidents per se, but rather to interrogate the logic of building retirement houses for individuals who are otherwise already relatively wealthy and boasts of luxurious mansions in affluent neighbourhoods and perhaps highly mechanised farms in the countryside.
For instance, KK has his Shambalakale Farm in Chinsali; Chiluba had mansions in Ndola and Lusaka; Levy had his own stately home near City Airport as well as several farms in Lusaka and Copperbelt provinces while RB has a mansion in Kabulonga as well as a farm in Chipata. Furthermore, President Sata has his own house in Rhodes Park along Omelo Musonda road. And to crown it all, even the people that are aspiring to succeed him such as HH, Milupi, Chipimo and Mtesa all have their own stately homes in or outside of Lusaka.Only Nevers may be an exception in this case; he is said to be staying
in a rented flat in Long acres.
The K1.4 billion question now arises; should government continue building houses for our former presidents when the majority of citizens continue wallowing in poverty in makeshift shelters that they call their houses in overcrowded shanty compounds?
[pullquote]And suppose both the retired president and his wife pass on, who assumes ownership of the mansion?[/pullquote]
How sustainable is this programme? What about the issue of land; considering the rate at which land is being snapped-up for development in Lusaka and other urban areas, are we still going to have enough land to put up the said houses in the next 50 years or would government consider finding alternative land in other parts of the country?
Would this be acceptable when others may already have had mansions built for them in the much sought after suburbs of Lusaka? And suppose both the retired president and his wife pass on, who assumes ownership of the mansion? In Botswana for example, retired presidents are built houses but these remain government properties when the retired head of state and wife pass on; children are left to fend for themselves. The other example that is worth noting is the United States of America. It is common knowledge that America is the richest and most developed nation on the planet; other than “pampering” former presidents with state of the art mansions, they simply go back to their homes….of course with attractive benefits befitting one who has served his country with honour and dignity.
[pullquote]It is common knowledge that America is the richest and most developed nation on the planet; other than “pampering” former presidents with state of the art mansions, they simply go back to their homes...[/pullquote]
For example, the past immediate president George W. Bush has gone back to his 1,600-acre ranch in Waco, Texas. This is actually what he said upon arrival, “Tonight I have the privilege of saying six words that I have been waiting to say for a while — it is good to be home.”
And the current US president Barack Obama is also keen on re-settling in his own house. Recently, he was in his home area of Chicago for a week end after a marathon of campaigns across the country. He told enthusiastic supporters, “I’m going to go into my kitchen. I might cook something for myself; putter around in the backyard a little bit.”
Now, why should it be so difficult for RB to go back to his farm in Chipata where he was happily settled before he was rescued from near obscurity to become vice republican president? And equally, why shouldn’t the King Cobra simply go back to his house in Rhodes Park where he “patiently” waited to be president for a decade? Where did Zambia get this reckless idea of building retirement homes for former presidents? This is so disgusting to say the least!
Dear readers, I would like to end by urging you all to take a moment and seriously ponder the above thought provoking questions and accordingly add your voices to this important subject.
By a disgusted citizen