Opinion

Opinion: A Zambian Buffet Should Arise

By Sakwiba Sikota

Two days ago I gave, what the recipient referred to as, “a buffet” to a homeless man in Johannesburg South Africa.

I had spent a few days at a Johannesburg hotel which had such a beautiful cuisine that it made you over indulge in whatever you consumed. We were meeting with business partners who were in a hotel a block away from ours. Whenever we would go for our meetings we would come across this homeless man who slept in the road corridor leading to the other hotel.

The night before yesterday it was raining almost the whole day and it was terribly cold. For thirty six hours the homeless man was looking increasingly weak and whizzing away with an obvious chest infection. We would go past him at least four times a day and thus could not help but see his deteriotation.

Two days ago as we passed him on three occasions he seemed to be totally still and we hoped he was just asleep and had not passed through the Pearly Gates, or worse still a haven which is not a Paradise in Heaven but the “ Gates of hell” or “Gates of Hades” as found only once in the entire Scriptures, in Matthew 16:18.

After a beautiful dinner we came across him again in the exact same position he had been the whole day. Watching him as I burped due to having an overly filled belly, waves of shame and guilt overcame me. I had just had a four course meal and the homeless man before me had probably not even had a coarse meal in four days.
So I did what any good billionaire like Bill Gates would have done; I got the homeless an a takeaway pack from the hotel. As he ripped and tore the paper packet apart to get to the food, I knew his strength was coming back and being stitched together.

Please believe me when I say that inspite that I do not get even a slight mention in the unedited full version of the Panama and Paradise Papers, and I would certainly get a polite, though fIrm, decline to open up an account with any financial institution linked to the Paradise Papers upon offering them all my liquidity and even treasures in my dreams; my situation compared to that homeless man still made me look like Bill Gates offering a buffet.

Watching the homeless man I remembered a USA TODAY NETWORK study report showing that eight famous billionaires have a net worth which equals the poorest half of the world. Researchers, and even some of these rich persons who have good conscious and love for fellow human beings, are calling on world leaders to change that.

Warren Buffett is one such rich billionaire. In 2006 he announced that he would gradually give away the majority of his fortune to charity. The billionaire investor, rather than park his funds in the Paradise Papers hidden financial havens, has just donated another lot of his shares worth $3.17 billion to five different foundations. That puts his total charitable contribution to the organizations at $27.54 billion in just over ten years.

According to Forbes magazine, Buffett is worth more than $70 billion and is ranked as the world’s second richest person just behind Bill Gates.

In 2010 Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett created the “Giving Pledge” which is an initiative to “help address society’s most pressing problems” by shifting “the social norms of philanthropy toward giving more, giving sooner and giving smarter.”
The Giving Pledge was set up to persuade anyone with a billion dollars or more to fund good causes. Fourteen more billionaires have signed on to the Giving Pledge.

Rather than use their money to try to get political power in the manner Donald Trump did or the Guptas engaged in State Capture. These billionaires have become the new signatories who plan to use their wealth to support causes focused on poverty alleviation, education, healthcare research, climate change and the environment.

The full list shows that none of these people, making a direct difference in people’s lives, is seeking political power in their countries and they are the following;

Leonard H Ainsworth — Australia
Mohammed Dewji — Tanzania
Dagmar Dolby — United States
Dong Fangjun — People’s Republic of China
Anne Grete Eidsvig and Kjell Inge Røkke — Norway
Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou — Monaco, Cyprus
Nick and Leslie Hanauer — United States
Iza and Samo Login — Slovenia
Dean and Marianne Metropoulos — United States
Terry and Susan Ragon — United States
Nat Simons and Laura Baxter-Simons — United States
Robert Frederick Smith — United States
Harry H Stine — United States
You Zhonghui — People’s Republic of China

“We all have a moral obligation as the more affluent in society to give back as best we know how,” MeTL Group CEO Mohammed Dewji of Tanzania said in a statement. None of them are named in the Panama or Paradise papers.

Deutsche Welle (DW) when talking about the Paradise Papers says,
“Tax havens allows people or companies to clandestinely escape the laws and regulations of other jurisdictions It also raises the moral question of whether it is legitimate for the continent’s elites to avoid paying taxes while the majority of Africans live below the poverty line, says Peter Jones from Global Witness, an NGO dedicated to tackling resource corruption.

At the same time, he says, it’s important to remember that tax havens are also secret jurisdictions that can easily hide criminal activity, he said, from bribery to money laundering.

“Companies set up in these places hide their real owners. You can’t find out very much information about who is behind them, about what the business does, or what capital it has,” Jones told DW.”

It is estimated and reported on the internet that our own Zambian Kwacha billionaires set out below have the following;

Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (over $100 million)(over K1 billion)
E.S Sikasukwe (Net Worth – $ 184 million)(K1.8 billion)
Satwant Singh (Net Worth – $ 198 million)(K1.9 billion)
Charles Milupi (Net Worth – $210 million)(K2.1 billion)
Carl Irwin/Irwin family (Net Worth – $237 million)(K2.3 billion)
Hanson Sindowe (Net Worth – $248 million)(K2.4 billion)
Rajan Mahtani (Net Worth – $ 293 million)(K2.9 billion)
Robin Miller (Net Worth – $ 301 million)(K3 billion)
Noble Findlay (Net Worth – $ 310 million)(K3.1 billion)
Mark O’Donnel (Net Worth – $ 330 million)(K3.3 billion)
Hakainde Hichilema (Net Worth – $389 million)(K3.8 billion)

It would certainly be nice if one or two of our local billionaires also set up an initiative or “Giving Pledge”, for any Zambian with at least a billion Kwacha, which could be called, for example, “The Mahtani Giving Pledge”, “The Sindowe Giving Pledge” or “The Hakainde Giving Pledge”. Can one of our billionaires stand up and start the Zambian pledge? I am sure you, like me, are eagerly awaiting to see which ones of our top billionaires have the heart and resolve of those who have committed to the Giving Pledge.

High on my bucket list priority is to attend a public challenge I know that our local Zambian billionaires will rise to and show us that they are just as good and caring as the billionaires on the Buffett list. I am pledging in advance that once I enter into the billionaire class, I will use my wealth to support causes focused on poverty alleviation, education, healthcare research, climate change and the environment and not to seek political power or engage in State capture.

Just like that homeless man in the Johannesburg outdoor corridors received a buffet, there is a good reason that for the many Zambians living in the corridors under the poverty line far from the Paradise Papers havens; a Zambian Buffett should arise.

23 Comments

  1. BlackBird

    Mr. Sakwiba Sikota should have started whatever the “pledge” he is proposing and then invite others to join. This article is not in good faith but rather a go round way of castigating his political foes. Its clear from his writing that he has no intention of contributing to any such cause but rather to embarrass the people on his list. We do not need copy cat ideas to help our people. We can do it our own way. HH for example sponsors School Children up to University level. He drills boreholes and helps build Clinics and Schools in several communities without any publicity. The Young lady in Magoba Hon. Buumba does a lot of work for her communities without any billions in her account. Among those mentioned, there is a lot they are doing in the communities without anyone noticing. This is giving with all your heart. Curiously Sakwiba Sikota omits all those who are in the ruling party or Government from his list of shame. I think playing politics in this manner is childish. You cant give a pie to a poor person and suddenly pretend to become a champion for the poor. Do something big and sustainable that will touch the lives of the people on the street without praisng yourself. I’m afraid this tactic does not work for me.

    • Mulenga Mulenga

      Though i dont support the fact that HH was listed in the Paradise papers which is a bad thing nd jst shows his hipocracy, i can agree with u on this one that this is jst another childish political move by the PF to embarrass political opponents given the fact that no PF or government official is mentioned here which probably hipocritically implies that they are the clean good caring guys which is actually far from the truth, and does he mean to say that he can only start a giving pledge when he becomes a billionare, what crap is he trying to feed us.

    • Clarice

      Personally felt this was a poorly written article with very little research applied to it. Whether people like it or not these ZMW billionaires have done some charity work here and there;maybe for selfish, political, fraudulent motives or genuine interest in others welfare but the fact still remains that they done something that has benefited someone. If they want to amass more wealth, no one should judge them. Being rich has never been and will never be a crime or wrong before God’s eyes. Peace ✌

  2. BlackBird

    Mr. Sakwiba Sikota should have started whatever the “pledge” he is proposing and then invite others to join. This article is not in good faith but rather a go round way of castigating his political foes. Its clear from his writing that he has no intention of contributing to any such cause but rather to embarrass the people on his list. We do not need copy cat ideas to help our people. We can do it our own way. HH for example sponsors School Children up to University level. He drills boreholes and helps build Clinics and Schools in several communities without any publicity. The Young lady in Magoba Hon. Buumba does a lot of work for her communities without any billions in her account. Among those mentioned, there is a lot they are doing in the communities without anyone noticing. This is giving with all your heart. Curiously Sakwiba Sikota omits all those who are in the ruling party or Government from his list of shame. I think playing politics in this manner is childish. You cant give a pie to a poor person and suddenly pretend to become a champion for the poor. Do something big and sustainable that will touch the lives of the people on the street without praisng yourself. I’m afraid this tactic does not work for me.He is just politicking.

  3. CHRISTOPHER NYIRENDA

    brilliant idea

  4. Daywalker

    We would rather worship other people’s heroes and pull down our own. Instead of putting FTJ’s fascinating collection of shoes and suits in a museum we have vilified him over pocket change in presidential terms. Instead of deliberately creating billionaires we would rather worship the ones who come to exploit us. The levels of poverty both economic and intellectual is manifested in the squalor the majority of our citizens wallow in. Not everyone has the solutions we need and the power to see them through. That’s why we must all work together with our little fortunes material and otherwise to allow Zambians to progress from villager to billionaire included. Let’s not just create little Gupta’s everywhere but build a lasting culture of prosperity among our citizens at the top so that we are not at the mercy of foreign tycoons and companies all the time. It’s a scandal that our elections are funded by foreigners. How can we then claim to be independent.

  5. Wiseman from the East

    Another Lozi dunderhead. Over-educated but lacking conmon sense. No wonder Western Province is the poorest but with most educated mambalas courtesy of British privileges – suits and bottles of gin for tracks of land the Litunga didn’t even rule.

    Instead of using ZR to attack personal enemies, work on creating your own riches.

  6. Wise Me

    Thanks to Mr Sikota for exposing hypocrisy and setting the ruthless cadres on the defence of people they have little idea about.I that is the reason God does put his children in the hands of such pretenders.

  7. hanene

    Mr sikota, I really value as a very good lawyer. By the way, how many poor people are able to receive your services ? You have been a politician for a long period of time. In 2006 you stood for the office of President in upnd. Do you understand what you are talking about ? Do not be like these young boys who can be bought so cheaply. Maintain your long outstanding integrity. I know this is one of your rare jokes. Otherwise giving to the needy is true religion. Much as we advise our rich brothers and sister including yourself to give back to the society, advise the government to receive what is donated. A few months ago Dr Kambwili donated computers and the could not allow that. I saw of a modern clinic built by HH in monze and the government has failed to use that property. What giving back are talking about. Should giving back be in monetary value only ? If it would be so, there would be a lot of spirage along the way that another class rich people would be created.

  8. Sj

    Thank you Mr. Sakwiba Sikota for a discerning/insightful analysis. Really and trully this country indeed does’ve sufficient resources to share but some cards are played too close to the chest for any to discern/figure out how they reach the sky because some even carry the ladder with them in the form of secrecy and ZIp up the mouth on acquisition of investment to make money grow.
    For very few are born with a Silver Spoon in the Mouth. So most know the Pangs of wallowing in Poverty.
    But those that get There even Tuck their earnings away where the effects of sun/wind/rain of our economy can’t weather beat their hard earned currency, least it looses value. Comment

  9. bristol

    this is rubbish!Instead of boasting about helping the street kids who maringa in the streets of lsk, he has decided showing off by lettin us knw that he helped one in joberg.

  10. Msc Financial Economics

    Wise Me

    Thanks to Mr Sikota for exposing hypocrisy and setting the ruthless cadres on the defence of people they have little idea about.I that is the reason God does put his children in the hands of such pretenders.

    You are the one who is ignorant plus don’t bring God into this.

    Warren Buffet and even Bill Gates have set up foundations and trust WHICH ARE TAX SHELTERS plus donations to charity are tax deductible in the US unlike Zambia. Change the tax laws if you want the same.

    In other words Sakwiba is comparing apples and oranges despite noble intentions. And how many poor clients has Sikota done legal work for free?

    Besides HH and others do give while your PF government is busy looting.

    • Mukwasu Wasu

      WHICH PRETENDERS NIWE, EVERYONE IS NOW A COMEDIAN. WOULD YOU RIG ELECTIONS JUST BECAUSE YOU HATE SOMEBODY.

    • Wise Me

      At least not your Idol God but my God who has made has protected by Zambia denying hypocrites like you five times the chance to misrule Zambia and I believe he is going to do it again! Watch this space. It won’t matter how many faultt opinions you may place in this medium will change your situation only facing the truth will. I think you are a danger to HH and Zambia. Do you think your Masters is real? Because you are blind to facts. I wish you used it to be like one of the listed billionaires. A qualification being abused maligning others. HH is another human being he should not be idolized the sooner he realised the better for his ambition and yours too.

  11. cts

    Mr sakwiba watver u did to dat poor man ,dear just kno dat in heaven it z not counted u v exposed it.de Bible say don’t let yo left hand kno wat de right hand has done.wat does it mean ,watver u do especially helping de needy don’t expose it don’t show otherwise God ll not look on it. So if that long list of billionaires do fr de sek of boasting just no dat heaven z not theirs.remember wat de bible say,’ it z easy fr a camel to enter de eye of a niddle than a rich man to enter de kingdom of heaven .so be careful wt yo riches.

    • Bowise

      If Saki was honest enough he would have included the generous donation, support and mentoring these people provide. If they publicised these generous acts he would have been the first to condemn them. Please lets have leadership, focus on your common values if, if you can’t agree over your differences, which seem to be personal.

  12. Sunta sunkutu

    I absolutely detest this unchained criminal called HH, but I must say, this article is below the belt and only further garnishes with shame what has deteriorated into a sad career of Mr sakwiba sikota.
    Mr sikota, a once honourable man has now made a career out of kissing the assess of the party in government.

  13. N. C

    What Mr sikota elaborated is being rich and join politics to gain more rather than being rich and give your possessions to poor community, the problem of you people everything is politics nowdays, everyone wants to comment and defend his political president when they hear there names. We need to change see things the way others see them.

  14. Elvis mwale

    I beseech you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of Jehovah, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy,acceptable to Jehovah, which is your reasonable service for mother Zambia. And do not be conformed to the standards of this world which is hate, disrespect, dishonest, tribal hate ,political attack but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of Jehovah. Love one another and respect the other person’s opinion let love ,unity and humor govern us all the 73 tribes of my and your country which is Zambia, love all.

  15. Prince Harry and the Half-Blood Mulatto Meghan Sparkle

    Another of Jonathan’s useful idiots. No mention of the plunder Chagwa and Kaizer Zulu have amassed in a short period of time or his master’s Mpundu Trust.

  16. Peter

    @Msc Financial Economics

    Correct.

    A little knowledge is always a dangerous thing. The America taxcode gives the supperich incentives for giving by making foundations taxfree, unlike Zambia where tax exempt status is used by conmen to avoid taxes through bogus churches or dubious NGO like Yali to chew donor money – in fact once NGOs were being used to avoid customs and excise duty on imported used vehicles.

    Here is the list of the biggest foundations most with links to the supperich in the US.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (also includes Warren Buffet) $40.3 billion

    Howard Hughes Medical Institute  (setup by the estate of late billionaire Howard Hughes) $17.8 billion

    Ford Foundation (from the estate of Henry Ford founder of the Ford Motor Company) $11.7 billion

    Lilly Endowment (linked the the drug maker Eli Lilly) $10.07 billion

    Robert Wood Johnson Foundation  $9.7 billion

    William and Flora Hewlett Foundation  (linked to computer maker HP) $8.74 billion

    W. K. Kellogg Foundation Trust (from the estate of Keith Kellogg the founder of Kellogg corn flakes) $8.72 billion

    J. Paul Getty Trust ( from the estate of John Paul Getty an oil billionaire) $8.68 billion

    Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (co-founder of Intel the computer chip maker) $6.4 billion

    David and Lucile Packard Foundation (also related to HP) $6.3 billion

    Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (from the estate of the late multi-millionaire Andrew Mellon a partner of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie) $6.18 billion

    John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation $6.0 billion

    The Pew Charitable Trusts $5.6 billion

    Silicon Valley Community Foundation  $4.7 billion

    Nemours Foundation a$4.6 billion

    Bloomberg Philanthropies (setup by billionaire Michael Bloomberg) $4.24 billion

    The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust $5.548 billion

    Even Mark Zuckerberg the man behind Facebook has a foundation.

    If Sakwiba Sikota is honest and means well he can lobby for a similar legal framework in Zambia.

  17. Faruk

    Mr Sikota I personally have always held you in very high esteem to the extent that I doubt if you actually wrote this. However; if you did what I can say is that you have sunk to the lowest level you can sink. By the way about your pledge you don’t need to be a billionaire to help the needy. I still don’t believe that it is Mr Sekwiba Sikota I know who wrote this rubbish.

  18. ckabwe

    It will be wise of Mr Sikota to entice fellow lawyers to start such an organization to help alliviate poverty. Politicians,soccer players are others living an affluent life. Go for it,you have our blessings!

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