PROFILE: Luena independent member of parliament Charles Milupi
Profile by Post Online.
Hon Milupi, Public Accounts Committee chairperson says that although he has what it takes to lead the country, he will never insist on contesting the presidency if the opportunity does not come his way.
He says the presidency is God-given and those who would like to impose themselves will have a mountain to climb. Milupi believes that even if he does not become Republican president, he can still contribute to national development if he belongs to the right and capable team because there is progress in collective efforts.
“Zambians are getting sophisticated so they will not vote just for anybody. They are going to decipher; they will look at the record of this chap,” Milupi says. “I personally believe that I can bring value to high-level leadership in any capacity.
I do have a record of leadership in the industry, public service in Parliament and I am able to articulate where I think the country should go…we need accelerated development. Zambians no longer need ordinary development.”
Read on and discover Milupi’s roots in Mongu’s Lutongo village where he used to herd cattle, like most Lozi and Tonga boys do in the villages. But Milupi realised quite early that much as he was proficient in herding cattle, he also needed to be proficient at school if he was going to have a bright future.
And because of wisely investing time in education, Milupi turned round his fortunes. From being a herdsman, Milupi found himself being general manager of the then Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) and later a top manager and shareholder in CEC. Now, Milupi relishes the idea of running the affairs Zambia as president of the Republic.
Question: Who is Charles Milupi?
Answer: My full names are Charles Lubasi Milupi. I was born on the 25th of April, 1954 in Lutongo village in Mongu district of Western Province. My father was Milupi Mulelekwa and my mother was Inonge Mwangala Milupi. Both my parents came from Mongu district.
I grew up in the village because by the time, my father had retired and had gone back into the village. His last job was that of being a clerk of the local court system. As you know, we had the Barotse Native Government so he was a clerk within that system. So I grew up in the village doing the sort of things that children in Western Province do. I was herding cattle.
I went to school at the age of seven. But before I went to school, I was very proficient in herding cattle. I remember receiving praises from various elders for herding cattle proficiently.
I went to a local primary school. By then it only went up to Standard Two. Then I went to sub-standard A in 1961 at a primary school called Makuku. At the end of that year, my elder brother had become a teacher at Siole Primary School, west of Kalabo.
He took me and other brothers to live with him. This is where I did sub-standard B in 1962. In 1963 and 1964, I did Standard One and Two. When we were going into Standard Three in 1964, that is when this country changed from standards to grades.
By then my brother had been transferred to another lower primary school in the same locality. We were the first to open what was then grade five. In 1966, I did grade six. In 1967, I came back to Siole but now in boarding school because my brother by then had stopped teaching. He had joined the local government system at Kalabo rural council. At the end of that year, we sat for examinations to go into secondary school.
And as remote as Siole was, I was one of those that were nationally selected to come to Lusaka at David Kaunda Technical Secondary School. It was the only of its kind. The system then was to select those they considered as bright pupils, especially those that had a leaning towards science subjects, to go to David Kaunda.
That’s how I found myself in Lusaka in 1968 to do form one, form two, form three, form four and form five. In 1972, I sat for my O’level examinations.
And whilst waiting for my results, in those days many companies used to go round schools looking for potential employees. In spite of the many companies, I decided to join the mining industry. Therefore, in January 1973 I was taken on in a group of about 90 other school leavers in a programme run by the mines to basically identify people for further training.
We were based in Mufulira where we stayed up to September. When the O’level results came out, I had done extremely well and the mining industry decided to make me as one of the 12 people that were sent to the United Kingdom to study A’levels leading to a degree programme. I was 18 years at the time.
So we proceeded to the UK and studied A’levels in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics at Bath Technical College for two years and qualified in June 1975. I ended up at Cardiff University College in Wales where I enrolled to study electrical and electronics engineering.
I was at this university from September 1975 to June 1978 when I graduated with honours.
All this time, I was sponsored by the mines. By then the mines had a very effective development programme. Because I was an electrical engineer, when I came back I was sent to what was called Power Division of the mines where I started my development programme.
Copperbelt Power Company (CPC) at that time was jointly owned by NCCM (Nchanga Consolidated Copper Mines) and RCM (Roan Consolidated Mines). That is where I was sent because their role was to supply electricity to the whole of the mining industry on the Copperbelt.
In no time, I had finished my development programme and began to rise. In 1979 as young as I was, I rose to a position of section engineer and then to assistant head of department. In 1983, I was a very forceful person as an engineer. I didn’t tolerate any shoddy work from anybody, including expatriates. That’s how I came in conflict with an expatriate who was not very good.
But unknown to me, because of the way I was rising as young as I was; I was perceived as a threat by the same expatriate including the general manager – the famous Arthur Davies.
So in 1983, an incident happened at Luano sub-station near Chingola. I was now in charge of the Northern area which was supplying electricity to Nchanga, Chambishi, Solwezi, Chililabombwe and Mufulira. I was also virtually in charge of all the emergency power generation capacity of the mining industry.
All the emergency generators except one small one at Luanshya, were under my control. These were very highly technical things but I was very effective in running them.
My effectiveness threatened some of the expatriates. So one day in 1983, we had an issue that resulted in Arthur Davies terminating my employment.
Q: What was the issue?
A: It was a non-issue actually. One of the circuit breakers at one of our stations had blown up. And because I was the one in the area, we had gone to the area and began the process of restoring it. This circuit breaker was in two parts, the electrical part which I was in charge of and the mechanical part which I was not in charge of. And what happened clearly was that the mechanical part had failed so the head of the mechanical department had come and we had agreed on the process.
The one in charge of the mechanical part was a very hopeless person. Instead of working, he would be running all over the place. He wasn’t available so I was handling everything. When he was available in the evening and was told about what happened, he said ‘I want Milupi back to Luano’.
Luano was about 15 kilometres from where my house was in Chingola. I said ‘there is no issue now because the matter is under control, it’s not our issue but the mechanical department’. This man insisted that I needed to go to Luano but I said ‘I don’t work like that’.
The senior people took advantage of that and initiated disciplinary action which resulted in my dismissal. I remember the final dismissal was with the general manager Arthur Davies. When I went to see him in the company of the personnel manager, Arthur Davies began to lecture to me about being loyal and so forth.
All he wanted was for me to say ‘I am sorry’ then he would have reinstated me. He said a lot of things and in the end he asked me if I had anything to say. At that stage I was just supposed to say ‘Mr Davies I am very sorry’. But I said ‘Mr Davies, let me tell you that I am a very loyal person, but I am loyal to my country’.
That statement angered my Davies. He said ‘that’s it, you are fired, just go!’ That’s how I was fired. But that development created a furore in this country to the extent that it hit several headlines in the Times of Zambia. If you go to the archive and check the Times of Zambia of about July/August 1983, you will find these stories.
Arthur Davies was very close to KK (Dr Kenneth Kaunda). KK is the only person he respected. After that he respected Francis Kaunda who was the chief executive of ZCCM and to some extent Joseph Chileshe who was the vice. Nobody else in the country mattered. But there was also a lot of resentment against Arthur Davies, including in Parliament at the time.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, Mr Humphrey Mulemba who was then…Actually, I will tell you a very interesting story. Eventually, Frederick Chiluba who was chairman of Zambia Congress of Trade Unions got involved although I was not a member of the union because I was in senior management. I remember going to see Chiluba at Atlas Copco. He wasn’t a very concentrating person so as I was talking to him, he picked up the phone and phoned President Kaunda.
But the response from there clearly indicated that he (KK) was already aware of the situation from Arthur Davies’ angle. Chiluba didn’t get much reception from the president so he put down the phone. He picked up the phone again and phoned the then UNIP secretary general Humphrey Mulemba. Mr Mulemba said he wanted to meet me. That meeting was organised and I drove to Freedom House. Mr Mulemba was very receptive and sympathetic.
But I told him to be careful because it appeared the president was aware of these things. He said ‘it doesn’t matter to me because I am looking at issues affecting Zambia and Zambians’.
So the matter was left with him. The next I heard was senior people in ZCCM wanting to see me. Max Sichula who was then director of personnel was sent to see me. On the basis of that, it was decided that I be reinstated. This was now a month later in September.
But I was adamant. I said ‘look, everybody in the country knows that it was Arthur Davies who was wrong’ so I am going back to Copperbelt Power Company. But they said ‘you have a brilliant career and we don’t want to be in conflict with that person so we will take you to Kabwe division of ZCCM’.
Eventually, I agreed to move to Kabwe as an assistant head of department. Hanson Sindowe (CEC chief executive officer) was the head of electrical department so I was reporting to him. People like Zesco managing director Rhodnie Sisala were section engineers reporting to me.
I worked in Kabwe from November 1983 and in no time, I was promoted to be the head of department after Sindowe moved to Konkola division in 1984. In 1987, I was promoted to be engineering superintendent looking after four engineering mines.
In Kabwe we had power stations, we were generating our own electricity for the mine plus all engineering associated with underground mining and the processing of the ore into finished metal.
When I first went to Kabwe, I found a technical problem. Every time it rained, the electrical supplies would go out. So I began to work on the protection system to stabilise that. The other thing was the charging system at the furnace always failed. I sorted that one out.
That is why I was eventually promoted to engineering superintendent. I worked there up to 1988 when there was a position at Mufulira division. Again, it was to look after all engineering. So I moved to Mufulira as head of engineering. I looked after all the engineering work at Mufulira division which is the largest mine in Africa. I looked after the engineering equipment underground, metallurgical services, support services and so on.
Whilst at Mufulira, I had gone to Ireland to do a senior management course. When I came back, I was promoted to a position of manager and was transferred to what we called operations centre.
Before I forget, in 1986 when I was in Kabwe, president Kaunda had mooted out a scheme with the late (Indian prime minister) Indira Ghandi to create an aluminium smelting plant in Zambia.
Aluminium smelting requires a lot of electricity so India had the advantage because they had a lot of alumina. Aluminium comes from an ore we call bauxite. You process that to the next stage, to a white powder which is called alumina. From alumina, you need to turn that white powder into metal through an aluminium smelting.
So president Kaunda in his travels had met with Indira Ghandi and the two of them decided that the two countries needed to come together and utilise the excess alumina and the electrical power that Zambia had. We were going to produce 100,000 tonnes of aluminium in Kabwe. Kabwe was chosen because there was a huge power station nearby. As the mine was winding down, we were thinking of something to replace it.
So a group of us had to go to India for a tour to put this thing together. I think that shows the mood of the country at the time; that there was an element of planning. If something went down, we had to replace it. This was going to be a huge project and many people were going to be employed. But the project didn’t come to fruition. I think this had to do with the two governments.
In 1989 after my stint at Mufulira, I was promoted to a position of manager. This was a level next to the general manager. I moved over to Kalulushi. We were then putting up a project known as the Parts Manufacturing Facility. What was recognised was that Zambia’s copper production capacity was severely impeded by lack of spare parts to the mining industry.
The powers that be looked at other similar mining companies in Chile and Congo. These companies had spare parts manufacturing facilities. Zambia didn’t have so we relied on buying spare parts from all over the world. This was very expensive and Zambia didn’t have the money.
So the idea was mooted of creating plants to manufacture parts of high quality under licence from the original equipment manufacturers. We decided that this will be expanded to manufacture also for other industries like the Indeco companies including Mansa Batteries and Kapiri Glass, to determine the level of their requirements in terms of spare parts. We were also to manufacture tools and cutlery. It was going to be a big project. The total worth of the project was US $100 million.
The engineering was to come from Italy. I was then moved to finalise this US $100 million project with a view that when it was completed, I was going to take over as general manager to run it as a ZCCM subsidiary company.
But the Italian business people in Zambia began to go back to their government saying ‘if you fund this, we depend on supplying spare parts to the mining industry so if they can manufacture their own, then we will lose business’. So the Italian government began to renege until the top management of Francis Kaunda and others decided that we were going to move to South Korea. Everything was in place, the building was already there. It is at the corner of Mindolo Road in Kitwe and Nkana Golf Club. That brown building.
That is how we shifted our attention to South Korea to a company called Daewoo. Among the things they do at Daewoo is to manufacture computer-controlled machinery, ships, helicopters, everything that you can think of.
I went to Daewoo several times to organise this or that. I created a team, sent out people to colleges and universities so that by the time we were opening, we were going to have experts in place. That was in 1990. In 1991, MMD came to power.
And again, like the Italian business people here, the first MMD government had a lot of briefcase business people whose job was to bring spare parts from South Africa. So our project was one of the first casualties when the ‘new culture’ government came in. They said ‘we don’t need to manufacture our spares’.
To me this was a great shame. When the MMD government came into office in October 1991, they gave instructions for us not to proceed with that project, advanced as it was.
A new administration for the mines was picked with Eddie Shamutete as chief executive. I was part of that new administration because I was moved from that project to become what we called consulting engineer, mechanical/electrical. That was the position in charge of all the engineering in ZCCM including all the projects. I was based at operations centre. This was a general manager position. It was equivalent to a general manager at Nchanga, Mufulira etc.
I worked up until 1997 when they began to privatise the mines. There were some debates and I appeared on TV a few times warning the country on how we should privatise. At the time we were worried because ZCCM was structured as an integrated place. Nkana smelter did not only rely on concentrates from Nkana. It also relied on concentrates from Nchanga. We warned but the MMD government was so keen to privatise so they went ahead to privatise.
Then I got myself involved with a small team of Zambians; Rhodnie Sisala, Hanson Sindowe, Aaron Botha, Humphrey Mulela and myself. We were a group of five. We began to have discussions with a British company known as National Grid with a view to participate in the privatisation of the power division. This was in 1997.
Then I stopped work together with the rest of the team to facilitate this. The privatisation was successful. The original concept was that power division was going to be the last to be privatised. But ZCCM was so squeezed for cash. So the privatisation of package A for the Kafue Consortium was delayed and ZCCM became even more desperate for cash.
To get cash, they moved what was called the J package which was power division. That is why it was the first one to be privatised at the same time as Ramcoz in Luanshya.
For this group of five people, we were given three percent shares.
They came by what we called free carrying although there was nothing free. What it was, was that because of your work, these shares accumulated to you over a period of time. That was one per cent. Two per cent was partial carrying, which means they are your shares and you will get dividends from them. But that dividend goes to pay the value of those shares.
In the end, you are not getting anything until the full value of those shares is paid for. That is when they become your shares. We decided to share that three percent of shares equally among the five of us. So each one got 0.6 per cent. Up to now I hold 0.6 per cent although some people think I own a lot of shares in CEC.
So we moved into the new company called CEC and I became the technical director. I am the one who suggested the name CEC.
Q: Why did you suggest that name?
A: Because we wanted a name which had the word “energy” in it. The initial thought was to go back to Copperbelt Power Company. But we said good as that was, it would be a throw back to what it was. So we just changed power with energy and it became Copperbelt Energy Company. We did that in Birmingham in the UK and designed the logo that you see. That is actually CEC but with electrical colours cleverly done.
So in the initial management, I became technical director, Sisala became director of operations, Sindowe became director of business development with an expatriate chief executive. But we run the company. Shortly afterwards, I became the chief operating officer in charge of the operations of the company.
Q: Have you cleared the full value of those shares?
Q: So you are now enjoying dividends from your investment in CEC shares?
A: CEC had a very aggressive dividend policy. First, you had to declare profit and then take the money. Other companies don’t do that. You find that they are not declaring profit and dividends and yet they are operating. I have a problem with that. In CEC at the time, the only money external shareholders will take was through dividends.
Therefore, the government also benefited because they own 20 per cent of the company through ZCCM Investments Holdings. If you go to ZCCM Investments Holdings, you will find that right from that period, the only company that was declaring dividends was CEC.
Q: Your dividends are no longer being used to offset the value of your shares in CEC, is that so?
Q: If you don’t mind, would you disclose the amounts of your dividends? Are they in billions or hundreds of millions of kwacha?
A: For 0.6 per cent, if they declare US $10 million as dividends, 0.6 per cent is equal to US $60,000 in a year. That is the sort of value we are talking about.
When I worked as CEC’s chief operating officer, I was very well paid. In 2004, I began to have doubts in the way the company was going. So in July of that year, I left the company; first of all to reflect and decide what I was going to do next because I had made up my mind not to continue working.
Q: So how did you leave CEC? Did you resign or…?
A: It was through early retirement. I just reached 50 years at the time and at 50, one qualifies for early retirement. Full retirement is 55. I am reaching 55 next year. I am on a pension now. I began to reflect. I had options to establish a consultancy because of my vast experience in the mining industry.
Q: You talked about having doubts concerning the way CEC was being managed, what were those doubts?
A: The people that came in initially in CEC were the ones that we negotiated with from the UK side and they really understood us. But National Grid decided to use Midland Power, also a British company because they didn’t want to take the risk alone. But shortly afterwards, Midland Power was bought by a company in the United States called Synergy.
So we began to have Americans coming. By that time, the chief executive officer was an American. I wasn’t too keen on his management style. The Americans assumed that they were way, way above and Zambians should be grateful. For example, we would have a technical issue – because there is an interface between Zesco and CEC as Zesco supplies power to CEC…
Q: Supply power to CEC almost at no charge?
A: No, at a charge.
Q: Almost, at no charge?
A: No. That is a misconception.
Q: Well, it is said that the money that CEC pays Zesco is just too little compared to the service(s) provided…
A: No. I went to the office of the Auditor General sometime back and the same issue came up. But when these things were negotiated, the tariffs went up to three cents per kilowatt per hour. The original contract was 2.1 cents went to Zesco and 0.9 cents is what went to CEC. Now, Zesco generates the power and transmits it to two power stations on the Copperbelt – Kitwe and Luano – and they hand over to CEC who then step it down from 330 KV to 220 KV thousand volts. CEC steps it down further and transmits to all mining companies.
Q: But one can still argue that the 2.1 was not worth Zesco’s services to CEC…
A: Yes, one can argue that but you will have to look at the tables. That is why we are re-negotiating now. The issue of what Zesco can take out of that tariff is subject to discussions. They are carrying out those discussions now. And I have no problem having such adjustment. The original figure was not driven by CEC. It was driven by the mining industry and the MMD government succumbed to that. So they forced the figure of three cents.
Q: Ok, kindly go back to the point you were discussing concerning the options you considered after leaving CEC…
A: I considered that option of establishing a consultancy, which I did in January 2006 at Konkola Mine. The mine was nearly flooded, water was going in the shaft, and I was called because people knew about my expertise and I saw the KCM management. I went in there for eight days, underground trying to understand the problem.
Anyway, I worked and found out what exactly the problem was and how the electrical system didn’t work properly. I prepared a report and KCM said they wanted to establish that consultancy they could give me that contract to be carrying out inspections.
By then I was considering to join politics because I thought that for a long time, the people that went into politics had the cadre mentality. And invariably, those that felt that they had professions stayed behind. So I thought that with my knowledge and experience, it was now time to move into the political arena.
That’s how I offered myself as a parliamentary candidate for MMD in Luena Constituency in Mongu during the 2006 elections. But whereas I was vastly received by the population in Luena, the MMD constituency leadership had picked on somebody who was a relation to the constituency chairman. People petitioned but nothing happened. Some people in the top leadership were also afraid of a new type of leadership that it would disturb the balance of power and affect their being appointed in certain positions. I don’t think I am the only one who suffered this.
But I was so determined to stand and following the call from the people, I decided to stand as an independent candidate. I held a rally in Limulunga and people said from 1964, they had never seen a big rally like that.
That is the amount of welcome and support I received. I can tell you that even though the people of Western Province overwhelmingly wanted Mwanawasa, for whatever reason, it was not difficult to convince them that they should vote for me as a member of parliament. If you look at the percentage of the people that voted for Mwanawasa, the highest percentage came from Luena Constituency.
They also voted for me overwhelmingly thereby beating the MMD candidate including Crispin Sibetta who was the MP in the area. I polled over 6,000 votes.
Q: If the MMD said they needed to utilise you now, would you return to the ruling party since you are no longer a party member because of your decision to go independent?
A: By the time I was contesting elections, almost all the political parties realised how popular I was and so they invited me to stand on their ticket. If the MMD came now…You see, I don’t do these things for personal gain. I have enough to look after myself and no job in the public service can pay me what I used to get paid when I worked.
Q: How much were you getting?
A: Well, something close to US $14,000 per month. At that time, it was over K50 million per month. I am not going to get that anywhere in politics. So some of us are in politics because we want to serve the people. And I am concentrating in rural areas though I could have also stood in Kitwe or anywhere else on the Copperbelt and won.
My view is that the development of this country must focus on rural areas which are usually left behind for development. There are still some people in rural areas who run away when they see a motor vehicle. We want accelerated development in Luena in particular, and the rural areas in general.
So the short answer to your question is that if the MMD came to me, provided they are very serious and the discussions are held at very high levels, I can consider working with them. These discussions have to be very serious because I will not be making a personal decision.
There are so many people and factors to consider. Out of the eight councillors in Luena, five are the ones I stood with, only three are MMD. Also the total infrastructure in Luena is mine.
But where there are programmes I feel are working, I have supported the MMD, even in Parliament. Where there are issues to be criticised, I think I am in the forefront to do that.
Q: There is talk that the people of Western Province are busy trying to identify a man or woman to contest the Republican presidency this time around. If you were approached to contest the presidency, what would be your reaction?
A: I don’t believe there is anything strange with that. Zambia is a unitary democratic country so the leadership of this country should be open to everybody regardless of where they come. The only thing is to focus on people of quality. People must see certain qualities in you.
There must be integrity and above all, you must be able to articulate issues. There is need also for a leader to have his or her own individual vision to articulate apart from the vision of the party.
So if people feel that from what I have done and taking everything in totality, that there is leadership even to undertake that responsibility, one would offer himself to take up that challenge.
Q: Assuming people do not approach you with such a request, would you sell yourself to them as a good presidential candidate?
A: But you need structures. So as political parties debate, I hope they will be looking at individuals that can bring value to the presidency. If they bring value to the presidency, then they bring value to a political party.
Zambians are getting sophisticated so they will not vote just for anybody. They are going to decipher; they will look at the record of this chap. So the answer to your question is most definitely yes. I personally believe that I can bring value to high-level leadership in any capacity. I do have a record of leadership in the industry, public service in Parliament and I am able to articulate where I think the country should go. As I have said, we need accelerated development.
Zambians no longer need ordinary development.
Q: Getting back to your presidential ambitions; you are an independent member of parliament and I don’t think you can be an independent presidential candidate considering that the law states that any presidential candidate must be supported by a political party. Since currently you do not belong to any party, what are you thinking or planning about your independent status in connection with your presidential ambition? How do you hope to overcome this obstacle?
A: There are several ways of overcoming that obstacle. The first one is working with existing parties; those that will see the advantage of having someone like me and those that I will be willing to work with because of their nature; if they have national character or whether we will not be mixed up with their previous baggage such as corruption and so on.
I also think that it is possible that politics of this country will evolve as we move towards 2011. It is possible to have new formulations and come together. But suffice to say that what is important is that, in the presidency, we have people with the ability to create teams. There is not a single person that can do everything. What is important is to create teams.
When we were in Parliament (the other Friday) and the President was making very serious pronouncements concerning the restructuring of the tax regime in the mines, to me this is the most important announcement probably since the economic reforms of 1969. But if you were in Parliament, you would notice what was going on. The President’s colleagues on the right appeared to be very shocked. The cheers and the rapport were from the opposition parties since they are the ones who have been pushing that this can be done.
That is what I mean by creating a team. Didn’t those people realise how important what the President was saying? Did they look into the future and see the opportunity which needs to be opened up? Can they implement the President’s pronouncements? We don’t expect the President to go and make tax laws.
His team should pick up.
Q: Are you in other words saying that even if you do not proceed with your ambition, you can still work in any viable team?
A: What I am saying is that it is necessary to be part of a team. You can’t go into something and say ‘I must be the one at the top’. There are political leaders in this country who are going to have their political lives curtailed, they will reduce themselves to jokers because of their insistence that it must be them at the top.
Amos, from 1964 we have had three presidents in this country. So there is also an element of God deciding who is going to become president. With this background, if one insists that he should be the one to become president, that one should understand that there is a mountain he is climbing.
Get the message! Let people see that there is quality in you. Most importantly, it is to focus on what we need most in this country; which is development. This can be done except we have to know what parameters we need for ourselves.
Q: I hear you are a village headman in Mongu and that you have built houses for your villagers; is that correct?
A: Yes. The villages in Western Province are on the plain so they were built on mounds. When the floods come…They are not big, maybe two, three or four acres. There are just close family members in that village.
My grandfather established this village a long time ago in the 1800s. They were using hoes. We already have this mound so you just make it bigger using whatever technology they had there.
Six years ago, I was made village headman to succeed my uncle who passed away. When I became headman, I said ‘let’s see if we can live differently’. Because the main industry there is cattle, so everybody must have access to cattle for ploughing and for milk. I also said we could do our village better.
That was the time I was earning that money I was talking about earlier. So rather than consume it myself, I decided to spend some of it on upgrading the village. I built medium cost houses for the key heads of families including my own house as headman which is slightly bigger. Mine is three bedroomed while the others are two bedroomed.
There are just six houses which I think is sufficient for the size of the village because they were meant to carter for key family heads who are closely related to me. There are plans to extend further but it might not be now since I am no longer in that well-paying job. I used a contractor from Chimwemwe in Kitwe who I took there and hired equipment to make the place even higher by one meter.
I was a bit uncomfortable just to build my house alone because there are amenities which I must be used to. Yes, I am from the village so I can go in the bush for my toilet. But I said development is about lifting ourselves from there. So am I going to lift myself alone in this village? I thought doing that will not look right so I did what I did.
Now, if the floods are heavy it means a number of villages will be flooded. So some people from surrounding places will use that as a refuge.
Q: Is there running water in this village of yours?
A: Not yet. We intend to do that and there is an electricity line very close to the village. With the availability of more resources, it is my plan to put electricity and water maybe by way of borehole.
Q: So what is the source of your livelihood now?
A: At the moment I get dividends from CEC. Subsequently, you heard of these issues of moving into a consortium. I am not part of that. I hold the original shares of 0.6 per cent just like Sisala does. Mr Sindowe went and created that. They are the ones involved in that.
From my original shares, I do get some money which helps me. I have got children studying overseas.
I am also a part owner of a company called BPT which carries out high quality motor rewinds and rehabilitation. We are based in Kitwe and I own 50 per cent of that. This is the best motor rewinding company in the country and it is doing very well. I also have a farm on the Copperbelt and my wife operates one of the BP filling stations in Lusaka. So all these are able to ensure that I am not hungry. I also have cattle in the village. I have 100 head of cattle.
You cannot be a headman in that place without cattle. I also get pension from the CEC pension scheme. When I am 55 in April next year, I will be entitled to the Mukuba Pension Scheme and the NAPSA pension. So I am able to live reasonably well out of all that.
Q: As we conclude the interview, I will ask you to talk about your family. Who is your wife and who are the children?
A: My wife is Judith Milupi. I have seven children, one is in London, the other is in Australia where he wants to pursue electrical engineering because I did it. There is a girl who is a fully qualified accountant in the United States. She is now working as a junior partner in KPMG. The other one is pursuing studies to become a medical doctor. There is a boy who was doing accountancy in the States and there is a girl who is completing law this year in June in the UK. The last boy has just finished school at Chengelo School in Mkushi.
Both my parents are dead.
Q: Is there anything you would like to say in conclusion?
A: Just to say we are fortunate that Zambia is a peaceful country. This is not because of leaders but Zambians by nature are peaceful. We relate so well to foreigners when they come here and they feel free because of our characters. Because of this, we maintained peace in spite of things that could have caused upheavals. When you look at what is going on in Kenya, we Zambians must do everything within our power to avoid that.
Having said that, two things should happen. We should have a culture to abhor wrong things. We must be a society of checks and balances. If you are in the village, you cannot propose to your relative. The whole society will rise against you. So we should abhor all the wrong things in society: defilement, corruption and so on. Let’s not look up to leaders, it is our responsibility as a society to do what is good.
We must also create an environment for rapid development. The potential that God has given to us is so tremendous. For example, we have enough hydro-electric potential in this country to supply the whole of Southern African region. Luapula River where there is not a single hydro-power station has potential for 2000 mega watts. That alone can supply the whole Zambia. The Zambezi River, the Kafue River. But let’s have leadership that puts Zambia first.
At the moment I get disappointed when I see leaders…Even from what the President said, someone is saying investors will go away. That’s a lie. They will not go away. In spite of moving them to the middle, we are still very much behind. The President gave figures. Let’s have leaders who will recognise this so we can work as a team for the development of this country. Let’s get our politics right. At the moment our politics are not right.
I would also like to see the enhancement of the oversight role of the legislature in every way. I would like to see the legislature having its own budget; the office of the Auditor General should have its own budget to work efficiently. This is not because we want to arrest people in the executive. It is in our interest all of us to have this oversight role being played effectively because we shall not always have good people. We are not looking for good people, we are looking for systems because we are not looking up to one person. We are looking up to a team.
Q: I would like to thank you so much for sparing me this time. I must confess that when I was coming to talk to you, I thought I knew you reasonably well. But I have just discovered that there are a lot of things I didn’t know about you. Thank you once again. I hope our readers will know more about you now because most people, I would like to believe, know your name as a result of your work in the Public Accounts Committee which you chair.