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Beyond the Obvious: How does the Top Man choose his officials?

THERE once was a young intelligent professional called Chris Zumani Zimba, CZZ, for short. He woke up one day to find his name all over the media. He’d landed himself the job of Political advisor to the Top Man. That was after replacing a long time public nuisance tribesmate of his called Kaizar Zulu, who I can call Caesar the Great. Now was this CZZ overjoyed? Of course, who wouldn’t?

But would I? My answer is a straight ‘No’. If I were him, which I’d never be, I’d politely decline the appointment from the Top Man. For various reasons, of course. One of them being that I was a fierce critic of the Top Man and social media is there to testify against me. Secondly I’d not be comfortable to serve a leader who picked me because I’m from the same region as he is. I know I’m his tribesmate, young, handsome, intelligent and an upcoming professional with a long life ahead of me. But again I’d remember watching a clip on ZNBC TV about a scene in parliament where the Top Man’s Justice Minister was justifying his appointment of three officers to sit on the Judicial Complaints Commission. This followed some concerns raised by a member of the opposition who felt that the appointment did not reflect or was not representative enough of all the regions of the country. So why should I be another statistic of the argument? These are some of the reasons that could make me decline the appointment.
But how does the Top Man choose people to work for him? Simple. The constitution gives him the prerogative to pick any qualified Zambian who meets the job criteria. Understandably, it could be equally difficult for the president to find everyone from the 73 tribes to appoint in his limited portfolios. But if I were the Top Man himself for a day, I’d appoint the most unlikely person as a show of goodwill, or as a matter of dispelling suspicions from Doubting Thomases like some of us. But I’m a Doubting Thomas who also feels sorry for the Top Man for disinteresting many of us by not appointing our relatives to some government positions, except, maybe, the lucky CZZ.

Now this matter of tribe and government appointments is not new and is not going to be the last. Several times we have seen appointments of government officials that don’t seem to show tribal or regional balancing. This was exactly what the opposition MP was laboring to seek clarity in the TV clip that we talked about earlier. ‘The queen is never wrong’ is an old adage I learnt a long time ago. To try to explain it, it simply means that those in authority will always have people to justify and sanitize the mess that they make. The top man has teams of experts, advisors and media specialists who make sure that whatever he says, no matter how skewed, is polished up before it is fed to the public. The Justice Minster tried to defend his boss. That’s what the italicised adage mean. But some things are not easy to hide or sanitise; like appointments that are in the public limelight.

Granted, the top man has all the prerogative to pick and appoint anyone to any position, but he should not be seen to be favoring certain regions or groups of people. We have observed with concern that many appointments go to either Easterners or Northerners, if not Muchinga or Luapula. For your own information, Beyond the Obvious seeks to ask nasty questions so that we don’t make silly mistakes. Who replaced Amos Chanda as spokesperson for the president?

Who is the boss at ZRA? Who is the Secretary to the Cabinet? And why ask all these ‘who’ questions, anyway? Because of what we see every day. And just now we have seen Caesar the Great, from Eastern Province, I suppose, dropped and replaced by another easterner, Chris Zumani Zimba.

Maybe we are being too harsh with the Top Man. Let’s ask it in a different way: do we have people in the Patriotic Front as a party who come from other tribes? How about government technocrats and those in private practice, can’t the president reach out to them?

I could be misinformed, maybe some of those big minds from other tribes are member of the opposition and the president may not feel comfortable bringing them near him. I don’t know, but I can give this advice to those in authority: let’s not appoint someone simply because they come from our region, even if they are ‘village fools,’ like what someone puts it. Similarly, those of us in the terraces, let’s not just condemn or criticise for the sake of it, even if what the other group is doing is for the good of the country.
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