Monday, 26 January 2015

PRESIDENT LUNGU HITS GROUND RUNNING

>>But Stumbles over Unfinished Cabinet Appointments<<

By Nyalubinge Ngwende
January 26, 2015 will be a day Zambians will remember for many reasons. One reason being that it is a day, in four years, that a sitting President has held a press conference and interacted with members of the press on the State House grounds.
President Michael Sata never held a press conference since September 2011 when he was elected until his death on October 28, 2014.
However, Edgar Lungu has broken that legacy set by his predecessor and today held a press conference to announce appointments to his cabinet, a day after taking oath of office at the Heroes Stadium.
The conference, for one thing, set the tone of the kind of leadership that Edgar will provide to the country— a seemingly open system that can be subjected to public scrutiny; at least if that means being able to subject himself to the media questions on various national issues and providing adequate and rational answers without getting angry with the ‘messenger’.
Without disappointment, Edgar took questions from the media while upstanding. That shows he wants to be a President who engages others on national issues as a firm leader and on an equal standing—he shall not be an arm chair leader.
The President also hit the ground running, but not without a stumble.
During his maiden speech after being sworn as sixth President of the Republic of Zambia, Edgar announced that ‘I want to give you a new constitution’. To that effect he immediately appointed Dr Ngosa Simbyakula as justice minister.
Later during a ‘victory’ luncheon at state house, Edgar announced that he had dissolved his cabinet subsequent to the earlier appointment of a minister to the same cabinet.
While this appointment and the dissolution of cabinet is an indication that the new President has hit the tarmac running, logic finds the order of things confusing.
The new President has stumbled especially: first appointing a new minister of justice on the podium, then later going to announce the dissolution of cabinet.
Which must have come first between Simbyakula’s appointment and dissolution of cabinet might not matter, but it looks like the continuity of late President Sata’s frugal way of doing things is back. Hope reversal decisions may not take precedent again.
To avoid this Edgar must show some orderliness in the manner he is going to handle his duties. There must be a plan and decorum in doing these things.
Maybe this may seem to be asking too much from the new President? But orderliness is one of the virtues of leadership. It helps the leader exhibit thoughtfulness and intra- and interpersonal consultation before final decisions are arrived at.
Another stumble is that for some days, the country will be without a full cabinet. It will be the President, his vice Inonge Wina, home affairs minister Davies Mwila, foreign affairs minister Harry Kalaba, health minister Joseph Kasonde, and finance minister Alexander Chikwanda.
He did not tell the nation whether he was keeping the key position of defense minister to himself.
This means for weeks or several days to come, the Zambian cabinet will only comprise Wina, Chikwanda, Mwila, Kasonde, Simbyakula, and the President. That is how the sixth President starts his business with a cabinet of six.
Lungu is also pandering to opportunism by repeating the same problem of appointing members of parliament from the opposition without consultation with the leadership of the party where such appointees are being poached. In this case is the appointment of opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) Solwezi Central MP Dawson Kafwaya as Northwestern Provincial minister.
This approach to so called inclusive government lacks its merits as it promotes opportunism and just fans animosity between opposition political parties and their members of parliament.
Inclusive government must not come at the discretion of a President alone in terms of choosing whom he wants to appoint to his government. There is need to consult the political party that has its members being sought to serve in government who should propose names.
Unless a particular political party does not cooperate, then such action could be understandable.
This is another stumble that Edgar was supposed to avoid in every way…at least just to show us that as a ‘Jubilee President’ he wants to do politics of reconciliation. You cannot reconcile without talking to others.
We are going to wait and see if this was not a stumble but a slip-up and the new President will do things much better; orderly and in a manner that reconciles the country’s political tension while seeking a better and energetic team of ministers to work with to revive Zambia’s economy.
NN