I was gripped with FEAR and ANGER at the same time to learn of the wild fires that gutted the Lusaka City Market and another that left many of our people out of work. The perpetrators of these crimes should be brought to justice. Especially the real culprit behind these acts of terrorism and sabotage. Those attempting to find the perpetrators need our support. Therefore, I offer my ideas on finding and prosecuting these criminals. It is pertinent to establish the possible causes, then use criminal investigations theory and solve the problem once and for all.
It is not unusual for one field to borrow methods and practices of another field and apply them to resolve a persisting problem. With all due respect to the lawyers and police of Zambia I believe that the methods that accountants use to investigate financial fraud could be helpful here. The objective of any credible investigation is seeking to ESTABLISH THE TRUTH, then determine if crimes were committed, if not take corrective measures and preventative steps to avert a similar crisis from cropping up again. If there were crimes committed commit the perpetrators to justice. Then mitigate the damage caused. We accountants ask three questions to find financial fraudsters:
a) Who had the motive?
b) Who had the means to do it?
c) Who had the opportunity to commit the crime?
In answering these questions, I learned in Postgraduate Advanced Forensic Accounting Theory and Practice as well and Advanced Accounting and Fraud Examination that a good place to start the process of investigating a crime is to develop a hypothesis. A hypothesis is “a supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation.” Its synonyms are theory, premise, suggestion, supposition, proposition, guess, assumption, and postulate. In philosophy a hypothesis is “a proposition made as a basis for reasoning, without any assumption of its truth. A crime investigations hypothesis would be twofold i.e. the null hypothesis H0 and the alternative hypothesis H1. If empirical evidence supports the null hypothesis, then we can dismiss the alternative and the vice versa. In this case:
H0 is “The Lusaka City Market fire was an accident” whereas
H1 is “The Lusaka City Market Fire was NOT an accident”
The null hypothesis requires the investigation to look at the assets involved and a thorough review of the safety mechanisms. All the people with positions of responsibility around the facilities should be questioned directly. To the extent that, it is established that the fires were indeed an accident those responsible for the safety of the assets involved who did not put in place the mechanism to safeguard them should held accountable, and new measures to eliminate the possibility of similar accidents at markets throughout the country should be instituted. Given the safety record of Zambia under this administration as a carryover from previous administrations including those obtaining in fatal road accidents, it is not unfathomable that there are systematic deficits in safety and property maintenance of facilities that could be causing these fires.
The alternative hypothesis is that the wild fires are not an accident but deliberate actions of disingenuous or disgruntled citizens. Disgruntled citizens could be those involved in the disputes within the markets who could be aggrieved with the manner in which past or current intra-market disputes were resolved. Anybody who has worked or interested with our great citizens in the markets of Zambia knows that’s it rough and tumble enterprise. It’s survival of the fittest. Then the fires would be an act of revenge or as they say in my mother’s village “Katufilile munsenga.” (meaning “if we can’t win let’s all be losers”)
The alternative place to look are wider disputes in the country over economic or indeed political outcomes particularly the defacto UNIPists i.e the Current PF/MMD cadres/supporters Vs. the UPND cadres/supporters. This matter was touted by the Bishops in April as creating an atmosphere of creating unyielding and ongoing tensions in the country. Interestingly the current administration has denied they are presiding over a nation under serious political tension.
However, in this pocket or tinder box of perceived or real tension we could look at UPND cadres/supporters as those who are aggrieved as potentially disgruntled enough to embark the same: “Katufililie munsenga” (meaning “if we can’t win let’s all be losers”). Since the main case is in court and a detailed review may be misconstrued as potentially contemptuous of our judicial process I will not get in details here.
The alternative culprits could be just crazy people taking advantage of the tension in the real or perceived tensions in the country to commit opportunistic crimes. We have people like this in the United States who start up fires or commit other grievous crimes due to craziness taking advantage of the political tensions between the Republicans and democrats. They can be mentally ill or normal people who get possessed by a destructive concept or demons. In my mother’s village we called them. “Ba chisanguka” (disguised monsters)
Then finally the disingenuous PF/MMD cadres/supporters. First there are two categories those dissatisfied with intra-party conflict resolutions could be in the “Katufililie munsenga” situation. This is plausible whereby they know their party has only one enemy that they will blame for everything bad in the country HH and the UPND. So this group would do damage knowing they can get away with it as government would be looking elsewhere for culprits.
The final and probably the most plausible are well connect and regular PF/MMD cadres/supporters. The markets burning are mostly if not entirely in the hands of PF cadres you can’t sell or work there ngatauli mubwato (if you are not in the boat). These are the people who are in charge of the administration and running of these markets. Why should these people be looked at more than any other group? It’s a concept I also learned in my mother’s village called: “Ukufwika amala yambushi mumukoshi” (literally it means putting the tripe or “offals” of a stolen goat around the neck of an innocent man). This group is responsible for the safety arrangements of property and people in the markets. They should have all the surveillance cameras if any, or charge over the guards if any. If someone went in to burn property, it’s either one of them or they sure know who did it.
But why would they be the ones to burn the markets. First they are PF and therefore they knew the PF government would compensate all who lose property to start afresh. Second, such wild fires create a perfect opportunity for our President to put more political opponents in Jail to clear a way to establish Mr. Lungu preferred form of government for Zambia in the 21st century, “THE DICTATORSHIP”. Does the PF government under Mr. Lungu work this way? You bet!
A few examples may be helpful:
First, a top party official had publicly declared that a citizen will be arrested for treason. A few weeks’ days later a citizen who was a passenger in a convoy of about 60 cars. Without sufficient notice the convoy was rear entered by the Presidential motorcade and a fracas ensued. A few days later. This illustrious passenger was arrested at his home bandit style and he currently sits in jail for endangering the life of a President he neither recognizes nor had a way to know the President is coming to pass near the car carrying him. Nkole yama pembwe now sits in jail for a non-bailable offense. Naowine balimufwika amala yambushi mumukoshi” (even him PF government put the tripe or “offals” of a stolen goat around the neck)
Second, we know a company that was the most important voice against the abuse of political power, and fostered free speech to engineer the development of strong opposition politics in our country since the third Republic. Like all human enterprise an imperfect company, nevertheless a sound company. As all companies do, it had debts in the form of taxes that due to litigation over the years had compounded into a giant debt bigger than the net assets of this company. Against wise counsel and sometimes citizens yelling, in the name of collecting taxes the Mr. Lungu’s PF government closed this company. In my profession, the language of business, we don’t close a viable company that owes more taxes than its value. Instead we conciliate it on a payment plan under the Internal Revenue tax code to remit payments until the debt is fully paid. That is a win win situation. Taxes are paid and the employees of that company can keep their jobs and feed their families. Albeit, in our PF Zambia wisdom is not important the interest was not collecting taxes. To date those taxes have not been collected because they exceeded the value of the company. And this the PF government of Mr. Lungu knew very well. The Post was closed to smooth the way for imposing a shameless dictatorship on one Zambia. A long standing disputed tax debt was turned into amala ya mbushi…NaPost ine baliifwikile amala yambushi mumukoshi. (Even The Post Newspaper, the PF government put the tripe or “offals” of a stolen goat around its neck).
Third, the Minister of Home affairs and the Head of Police two to three days prior to the Lusaka City market being gutted by fire they warned and publicly threatened the arrest of a certain chief who was organizing terrorism and other acts of sabotage. If they had this information and they knew the plans why didn’t they stop them before property was lost and burned? This is very similar to the warnings from Mumbi Phiri that HH would be charged with treason a few days before the fracas on the Road in Mongu. Balepanga akabepesho (creating a scapegoat). They are looking for another person or group of persons, political opponents for putting the tripe or “offals” of a stolen goat around their neck. Nabobene balabafwika amala yambushi mumukoshi. (Watch! even them the PF government is looking put the tripe or “offals” of a stolen goat around their necks).
In a nutshell, the key to finding the real culprit behind the setting of the country on fire is to look squarely at leadership. John C Maxwell has taught for the last three decades that: “Everything rises or falls on leadership.” The Bishops of the Mother church bodies observed and warned about the perils of unmitigated endless political tensions in the country. The lack of freedoms of assembly, press, and movement in any country in the 21st century is perilous and becomes an incubator for hatching dissidence and other criminal activities. In the Bible evil must be overcome with good but injustice begets injustice, violence begets violence and the cycle never ends.
A government or any group that sets these vices in motion will themselves reap the atrocities. Even those who kill by the sword die by the sword. Therefore, may I recommend that the responsibility for all these accidents, fires and tensions in the country be laid squarely at the feet of Mr. Lungu as the perpetrator in chief. They are downright to a LEADERSHIP CRISIS. It’s the Presidential incompetence, lack of clean motives or vision for leading our country. The President of Zambia Mr. Edgar Lungu whilst he was in Addis Abba and the Lusaka City Market was burning told us to be calm. Upon his arrival he was the least calm. After seeing the damage, he sought our permission to formally institute his preferred style of government for our country. Mr. Lungu thinks the solution to Zambia’s current problems is to impose a shameful form of government, A DICTATORSHIP in the 21st century. I truly think he was NOT SERIOUS but if he was it could be a case of one of three issues at play:
a) The President was under the influence of substances consumed on the plane from Addis the home of Haile Selassie.
b) The President is showing an alarming level of bankruptcy in governing ideas.
c) The President is up to no good for our country and his intentions are in the open now and we better wake up to this reality.
In which case let me reiterate my request from my last article to humbly ask Mr. Lungu to resign his positions as President of our party the PF, and our country Zambia with immediate effect. There are many things that Mr. Lungu as a citizen can do but President seems to be way above his pay grade. Mr. Lungu has no constructive governing philosophy or concept of organizing a peaceful and thriving nation in the 21st Century. Resorting to impose a dictatorship on Zambia the proud and free, the land work and joy in unity is despicable and a shameful adventure. It is a callous and heartless short cut crafted in wickedness and the bankruptcy of governing ideas. It’s a manifestation of sheer laziness to think and painstakingly work through challenging national problems. We refuse to tolerate or accept a lazy government for our country. Ba Lungu wesu ubunang’ani tabulisha kasuma (Our dear Mr. Lungu laziness doesn’t feed well). But in the unlikely story that this is Zambia, the dictatorship’s days are few and a government of the people, by the people, and for the people will arise again. Zambia shall be free from this dictatorship!
By Jones K. Kasonso, Ph.D., CPA, CGMA, MBA, BSc., NATech
The author is a Zambian, An Accounting Professor in Washington DC and Dubai.