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.