Tuesday, March 5, 2024

The rise and rise of James Ndambo – watch his lips


By Chimwemwe Mwanza

You have got to hand it to James Ndambo for putting up such a shindig. My Home Town (MHT) finale which gripped Choma over the weekend was a showstopper.

Everything he did and said in the build-up to the MHT spectacle was couched in philanthropic speak leaving no margin for error. Calm and articulate, he chose his words carefully, not like a businessman but a politician schooled in the art of sophistry. Yet, the impact of his works still makes it difficult to disguise the subtle hints of his true intentions.

What is Ndambo really up to is the big question?

One can refurbish a dilapidated school or a chief’s palace without raising eyebrows but tarring roads or donating vehicles to police is a civic duty – this is a terrain reserved for politicians. This gesture of goodwill is what is driving angst among his detractors. Regardless, Ndambo has not only created a new template for socio-economic development but has certainly raised the bar for philanthropy.

This is a headache for the new government which is still struggling to provide tangible achievements almost 10 months since assuming office. That his critics are now throwing bricks at his shadow in the hope that they will prompt him to reveal his real motive is evidence of the disruptive impact of a new third way – currently in formative stages. Try as he is doing to suppress whispers, time will likely reveal his motives. For now, it is safe to assume that there are two wealth political heavyweights in the ring.

The strategist in Ndambo had anticipated a political blowback of sorts ahead of staging the MHT hence his emphatic reminders that his was not a political project. Do we believe him? Here is a clue. Repeatedly asked the same question but on seven separate occasions, the current No 10, Downing street occupant, Boris Johnson vehemently protested assertions that he ever harbored ambitions of becoming Britain’s Prime Minister. Can you remember? Facing a life-threatening predicament, it was Simon Peter who twice denied the obvious – that he ever knew or met Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

Is there a witch-hunt underway to identify his associates? The Ndambomania is the reason we are now frivolously devoting inches of newspaper columns questioning the rationale of the state in providing him with security and police escort. For sure, the establishment’s lenses have temporarily shifted from the PF’s governance failures to a new target. Aside from the vitriol that is being thrown his way, it might even be possible that state sanctioned enquiries into his sources of wealth are underway.

But is this necessary? It is the nature of gutter politics and the Zambian terrain is not an exception to such skullduggery. Fact is one cannot help but marvel at what Ndambo is doing for Choma residents. He probably has done more at the stroke of a whip than their Parliamentary representative has done over the last 15 years.

Needless to add, the subtle message in this benevolence should not be lost in translation. ‘I hold no political office and neither do I have access to state resources yet you can see what I have done for my hometown Choma. Hena mulalanga basa? Imwe ba Kopala mwebalefwa ne nsala uko, bushe muletamba efyo ndebomba? Is the rest of Zambia watching? This is his manifesto.

Eyeing the Presidency or King-maker role?

Forget the pungwa semantics and the fight against corruption, it is the hunger stupid – to borrow renowned political strategist James Carville’s words. The real challenges facing of Zambian families is the rising cost of living, youth unemployment and poverty. It is these factors that catapulted the UPND to power and few would disagree that economic and social conditions have barely shifted despite the dawn of a new government. Just like UPND rode on an ‘agent of change platform’, these issues remain the soft underbelly for the third-way grouping.

For context, PF is unlikely to resurrect as an alternative or later on an effective opposition to the UPND. That it has failed to mobilise cash to host an electoral conference is indicative of the waning fortunes of the former ruling party. But Ndambo has cash and plenty of it for that matter. Could he therefore be a saviour or the unifying factor that the PF is looking for? Astute a businessman he is, it is highly unlikely he could jump into a sinking ship hence the best option would be creating a new formation.

That he is now a South African citizen is irrelevant in the bigger scheme of things which is why he is using trickery to elevate discourse of something inconsequential. His renunciation of Zambian citizenship was a fit for purpose decision that he can easily rescind without difficulty. In any case, doesn’t the Zambian constitution or its laws provide for duo-citizenship?

However this pans out, diversity and political plurality is what the country desperately needs. Let us be clear, enhancing Zambia’s democratic tenets is critical which is why those aspiring for Presidential office should be left to do so without intimidation, this includes Ndambo.

The author is an avid reader of political history and philosophy. The only thing he supports is Kabwe Warriors and Liverpool. For feedback, contact [email protected]



  2. Mu Zambia namo, a person cannot donate unless they want to enter politics?
    Ba Chimwemwe this is an embarrassing write up, expected better from you. How does PF enter into Ndambo’s discussion? Surely, you read the article on Koswe (a gossip column) and you choose to cement your article on that backbone?
    One of southern Africa’s richest men, Masiyiwa born in Zimbabwe and raised in Zambia has been donating in both countries and has been paying for over a hundred students each year through his foundation.
    Some people genuinely want to repay their communities by donating.
    What was James Ndambo supposed to say when asked, repeatedly if he wants to be President? He had to state his position, not offering any answers could be liable to be misunderstood.

  3. My own concern is his choice of using a beauty competition to help the vulnerable. 150 thousand dollars, and a car costing 80 thousand dollars for one person, 70 thousand dollars and another car costing nearly the same for one person doesn’t seem like a very good way to help the vulnerable.
    Let’s take the 22 year old for instance, she will go back to CBU with something in her account and a car that she may not be able to park within campus.
    It may appear that he is rewarding beauty or at the very least, elevating beauty over character or indeed hard work. Perhaps this would have been a large event which would identify young students, entrepreneurs or workers in government or civil servants and award those?
    The only question, why such a show of his wealth?

    • Very smart thinking. Thanks for a positive contribution. Indeed he can sponsor many more students, buy medications for many Zambians. Or is he sponsoring all the Choma clinics or following in the foot prints of Trump who once owned a beauty pageant?

  4. He is causing upnd sleepless nights because unlike hh, he is a genuine clean rich man. Even hh went to meet and beg from him. Let this man take over upnd if upnd Want to win next election


  5. If Donald Trump a rich clown can President of the US …the sky is the limit for James Ndambo, in fact let encourage him to join politics if I were him I would form a political party for his credibility rather than joining one.

  6. James Ndambo is dumb! He cannot be President! Read my lips!! He’s as daft as they come. Politics is not about money!!

    • But who told you he is joining politics? There are video interviews of the man stating he has no interest in politics, and he isn’t Zambian anymore.
      Even if he wanted to join politics (which I emphasize he isn’t) he doesn’t qualify on account of not being Zambian, and were he to apply for citizenship, he needs needs to stay in the country for a long time.
      Additionally, from his own mouth, he is thinking of changing citizenship to DRC for business purposes.
      Why are we afraid to read facts in Zambia? Why should an article published by Koswe ( a terrible ‘news’ site) be believed over own words by the concerned people?

  7. How do you want the man to deny he does not want to be president ???

    Even if he does……….People opposed to that would give him a tough time in courts fighting his african citizenship , its not as easy as the writer puts it…………

  8. How do you want the man to deny he does not want to be president ???

    Even if he does……….People opposed to that would give him a tough time in courts fighting his south african status , its not as easy as the writer puts it…………

    • He is a fraudster, former Cosmopolitan proprietor and Kalipinde inn. Former government employees before privatization.

  9. This man said he has opened a Restaurant and employed 10 Chef to be cooking and will be paying them $50,000 USD he didn’t make a mistake with this statement because he repeated that more than twice. Now my concern is that, what Restaurant is that to make that kind of money and spend $600,000USD per year for 1 Chef he lied it doesn’t add up. Even his director of finance at African Union Holdings does not get that kind of money per money, even the Governor of Bank of Zambia doesn’t get that kind of money. This man can not differentiate Dollars to kwacha.

  10. The man already has ADC? good strategy for entering someone’s stronghold first. I can see sleepless nights here. Hate chimwemwe or not, I see sense in what he has written. In 2026 it will be MONEY for MONEY forget about parties. Even if he contested on PF, Money and HUNGER will play a factor. The other one has money but does not give while the other is proving to be the opposite.

  11. Vamahala vinata kale kale. Hard work from now onwards! As the word says, I will bless the works of your hands * Pslams 90:17 “May the favor[a] of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands”.

  12. Very soon our active ACC will step in to investigate him. What is his source of the dollars,helicopters and suv he was donating. They will go to South Africa and repossess his building like the one they did for lusambo in S.A

  13. People were not paying attention to details. The evergreen Dora said, “James Ndambo has sponsoring Zambian students to study in various fields both within and outside Zambia.” His works isn’t just handouts but empowerment too. This year alone more than 70 households will be lit in Choma with Solar power.. Ba Pungwa should work hard to improve people’s living standards and STOP comparing JN with Chitechi uyu ndani ati he’s very rich and cannot deep his fingers in a cookie jar.

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