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What’s the fray about Bally not moving into State House quickly?

[By Prince Bill M Kaping’a]

No sooner had one Hakainde S Hichilema assumed the mantle as Republican President following a landslide victory against former president Edgar Lungu, than there has been a rising crescendo about the Head of State’s delay to take up residence in State House and swiftly appoint his cabinet.

The loudest chorus would of course be generating from one Sean E Tembo who carries himself as president of little-known Patriots for Economic Progress (PEP). Other attention seekers such as former Water Affairs & Development Minister Raphael Nakachinda wouldn’t waste time joining the fray by inciting parents not to pay school fees for their children since Bally promised the nation of free education from primary education through to university.

It’s great pity some individuals are expecting Bally to behave like a bull in a China shop by immediately moving into State House and appointing his cabinet at lightening speed! We don’t need to be reminded that the results of such kneejerk reactions would be too ghastly to contemplate.

Allow us now to address such issues, among others, on a case-by-case basis.

Moving into State House

Whenever a company or government recruits a new CEO or minister; care is always taken to extensively renovate what would be the new residence for the CEO or minister, and indeed add some new fittings. Depending on the extent of damage caused by the previous occupants, renovations may be inevitable. This may obviously gobble colossal amounts of resources and consume a great deal of time. Now if a CEO or minister can indeed be entitled to such privileges, what of a Republican President?

Apart from the foregoing, during the past seven years, we’ve always heard or read reports of witch doctors being flown-in from neighbouring countries to perform rituals at State House and plant some ‘chingilizani’ (charms) inside and outside. If this may be the case, why should we expect Bally to move into Plot One Independence Avenue without any qualms at all? To be tormented at night so that he fails to perform his duties?

We are now very happy that the President has ‘opened’ doors of State House to the church regardless of persuasion. Saturday, we saw the Seventh Day Adventists at State House, and Sunday was allocated to the Catholic Church. We expect the body of Christ to flock to State House not to receive brown envelopes but exorcise the property of any evil spirits by praying for it and sprinkling holy water around the premises.

Appointment of new cabinet

People keep wondering why the President is taking long to assemble his cabinet. Those that know and have interacted with Bally would attest to the fact that HH is not only a meticulous and methodical person but always pays attention to detail. It’s therefore not surprising that HH is seemingly finding trouble in coming with the perfect team!

One of the reasons why this country has ended up in such filthy mess is appointing ill qualified individuals as cabinet ministers. We don’t wish to take a detour and start mentioning names at this juncture as this would embarrass certain individuals. In explaining the delay in appointing his cabinet, HH pleads with us thus, “be patient with us, we want to appoint people on merit; by the time we’re done, you will be happy with us.”

We totally agree with him. We ought to understand that HH needs to vet most of the potential appointees and possibly rope in the intelligence community to do background checks on most of would-be ministers. Would we rather have morally upright individuals as ministers or crooks with blemished track records?

Finance minister Musokotwane

Hullabaloo seems to have broken loose on the appointment of Hon Situmbeko Musotwane as Finance Minister. And some folks seem to have gone to the extent of alleging that during his time as finance minister during the MMD regime, he had his fingers effectively ‘soiled’ by playing a key role in facilitating conclusions on transactions on such deals as fire tenders and mobile hospitals. Well, if at all there is any iota of truth in this, how come he was never arraigned immediately PF took over from MMD?

Of course, some people are arguing that HH has embarked on a journey of recycling politicians form the dead! Bembas say, “umulilo ucingile abakalamba taoca.” Do you honestly expect Bally to discard all the madalas? How come all of us were quite when President Michael Sata made Alexander Chikwanda, a relic from the past, a finance minister? This is a man who had previously served in the UNIP government in different portfolios immediately after independence and went on to work as chief of staff under Frederick Chiluba when UNIP was dislodged from power.

And just in case the nation has forgotten as is always the case, at some point former home affairs minister Steven Kapyongo, a currency dealer from Lusaka’s Katondo Street, was appointed to act as finance minister by President Edgar Lungu. Did folks like Sean Tembo take to the streets to protest his appointment due to his zero qualifications?

Nakachinda’s free education campaign

Raphael Nakachinda has gone on rampage inciting parents not to pay school fees for their children since HH had promised free education during his campaigns. This is very interesting, but the question is, who are the architects of the budget that the UPND government will be implementing henceforth? Is it UPND? Is it PF? If it is indeed PF, how do you expect UPND to provide free education when in fact PF did not provide for the same in their budget?

As we conclude this article, we would urge all well-meaning citizens to allow HH do what is right before he moves into State House or indeed appoint his cabinet. Thank you!

The author is a political and social analyst.

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