Oct 14, 2011

Never a dull moment


The last few weeks since the inauguration of the new Zambian government there has been seemingly non-stop ‘house cleaning’; boards have been purged, bureaucrats fired, airports renamed and various decrees issued. I’m not necessarily one of those people heralding this a new dawn. Call me jaded but I’m old enough to remember when this happened in 1991/92. This isn’t to say needed overhaul should be stalled, I just think we need to be smart and diligent about it all. 

For those who have a case to answer for, be it abuse of office, embezzlement or just plain incompetence, by all means get rid of them and replace them with more capable people. However, let’s not lose sight of a fundamental problem we have in a lot of our institutions – the lack of checks and balances. How many times do we see positions being filled by well connected cronies and/or relatives that should otherwise go to the most qualified person selected from a pool of applications? How many times do we have to hear about billions of kwacha going missing and unaccounted for before we realise we have a serious problem with internal accounting and auditing? 

You can get rid of the rotten apples but if the environment from whence they came is still rotten, guess what…

I applaud the new government for its zeal in cleaning house, but this is just the first step. We will only see true transformation, when the systems at their very core are flushed out and healed. Are we brave enough to tackle such a task regardless of what we each may personally lose such as a personal connection in the passport office to get expedited services? J

2 comments:

Good piece. I honestly dont think this so called house cleaning is well intended. Every new President has done this. But the end result has always been the same. These people always use the cover of corruption to remove people from public institutions and to create vacancies for their supporters, tribesmates and relatives. It is a very sickening practice because they merely reshuffle individuals and dont change the system at all.

We can only put this practice to a stop when we introduce, for example, a professional civil service. Let us divorce the civil service from politics. Let people rise through the service based on promotion as determined by the Civil Service Commission. The President should have nothing to do with it. The same should apply to the defence forces. It is disgusting to see people being made to skip ranks and promoted to commanders of defence wings because the guy who is President wants a fellow tribesmate at the top. All Presidents have done this. One may ask is a rank in the defence forces something to be proud of?

Parastatals like ZESCO, BOZ etc should also be depoliticised. What is so difficult about recruiting the CEO for ZESCO from the wider labour market? Why is it so important for a sitting President to appoint the CEO of ZESCO? Where in the world does a President appoint operational officers for the central bank and a public broadcasting company?.

I hope Sata's govt is the last from this failed generation from the UNIP era. They know no other way of doing things. They are more inclined to act on the basis of Githongo's 'its our time to eat' syndrome.

You raise very valid points! I also question the motivations behind some of the recent personnel changes. As you have pointed out there are some positions that should not serve at the pleasure of the president.

I really want our politics to move beyond the basics - "it's our time to eat." This is why I continue to insist that we need transformative leadership that isn't centered on personal vendettas or charismatic characters with populist platforms. Otherwise we continue to spin our wheels & regress.

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