By Rev. Canon Dr. Kapya John Kaoma
The developments that surround Dr. Kaseba Sata’s accommodation are highly unsettling. In the nation where the majority lives on less than a dollar a day, I am shocked at the huge bill — K2, 246,547 and still counting—the careless PF. government paid to accommodate Dr. Kaseba at Number 8 Reedbuck.
I fully sympathize with Dr. Kaseba and her family on the death of President Sata—may his soul rest in peace and rise in glory. That said, I think the commentary on her housing situation is highly misplaced—it betrays the sense of reason. Dr. Kaseba and the late President Sata did not live at Plot 1 until the late 2011, hence the question, ‘What happened with their properties across Zambia?’
The UPND Member of Parliament Gary Nkombo’s question on why the PF. government was failing to take care of ‘former First Lady’ is cheap politics at its worst. Nkombo as an opposition leader should questioned the of wastage of public resources as opposed to encouraging it. In my book Raised Hopes, Shattered Dreams, for example, I argue that Zambia has already borrowed more money under the PF administration than the UNIP and the MMD reigns combined—something the World Bank has finally accepted. When the owners of the borrowed money start chasing us for their dollars, the poor will suffer the most. As for politicians, they will continue to lead their lavish lifestyles.
The housing of Dr. Kaseba at Number 8 Reedbuck is disgraceful and immoral. President Sata did not come to State House from Bauleni or Msisi compound! We also paid for the Satas’ expensive clothes, food, toilet issues, and even salt; we increase President Sata’s salary three times in less than three years. He also qualified to receive his pension. Well, I shouldn’t complain – it is perfectly legal—after all she is the former First Lady!
Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on Dr. Kaseba is an insult to millions who can hardly send their children to school or buy life-saving drugs for their sick children. As a nation, we need to stop robbing of public coffers or what I have termed ‘legalized stealing’—that is stealing through entitlements. When are we going to have the poor people’s President and First Lady, who will denounce this form of robbery on moral grounds? It is not long ago when former First Lady Maureen Mwanawasa claimed her husband’s benefits and $1000 per month was nothing to her. But we all know that President Mwanawasa declared properties worth millions of dollars including farms and a multi-million dollar home in Kabulonga—well that money does not count!
It is unfortunate that we have accumulated so much debt; we can’t pay civil servants, pensioners and farmers on time; we can’t create new jobs; we can’t even provide medical care to all Zambians, yet we can spend millions on one individual! I admired Dr. Kaseba’s commitment to combating poverty among women and children (another reason I believed she would have been a better president), but her luxurious stay at Number 8 Reedbuck says much about her values and judgment.
Finally, politicians like Nkombo who see nothing wrong with spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on one individual need their heads examined. Dr. Kaseba is not the only widow who needs accommodating – she is just among millions of widows in the nation and unlike President Sata, their husbands were unemployed or under employed. They equally need government support, which unfortunately they can’t get since in the heads of politicians like Nkombo, they do not need taking care of. Dr. Kaseba, please keep your integrity—you were not born in Plot One!