THE best and the brightest is a historical account of the prolonged Vietnam war, written by a renowned American author David Halberstam. There are many narratives out there concerning this dark period of America’s history. But this book gives a factual and non-biased account of the mistakes made by the US government in Vietnam. It makes an excellent read of what it takes to formulate foreign policy and how to use international relation skills effectively to achieve a desirable end in any diplomatic engagement. The author makes it explicitly clear that in the case of the Kennedy administration, the president of the United States of America had assembled a team of experts to advise him on Vietnam. However, there was a problem with this team put together by Kennedy, because even though the president had assembled the most brilliant, if not the best minds of America at the time with their unmatched intelligence, this team by and large fell short of the wisdom needed to handle this war and that wisdom is often the product of hard-won bitter experiences. Halberstam points out that for most of these leaders’ wisdom came after the Vietnam war.
The Zambian people have just gone through an election, which was held last month on August 12, 2021. The United Party for National Development (UPND) won this election with a landslide, ushering in a new government and the 7th Republican President. Therefore, the hopes and aspirations of our people are so high right now with the majority praying for the new administration to deliver on their promises without fail. The amount of goodwill at home and abroad which has characterised the UPND victory has been overwhelming. Many people think that the leadership of President Hakahinde Hichilema will not only be good leadership at its best but exemplary as well to the region and continent at large. Therefore, the bar is set so high for this administration with everyone watching closely if the UPND government will live up to the expectations of the masses. Nonetheless, one thing that we should be aware of and serve as a reminder as we begin to evaluate the performance of this President is that President HH is not a career politician and has never been elected to any public office prior to the August 12, 2021. Hence, the task at hand for the President is first and foremost to assemble a team of “The best and the brightest” among our people.
It is this team that will work tirelessly to bring about real development, and help the President deliver on his promises. But just like David Halberstam puts it, this team will have to be a team that possesses both the intelligence and the wisdom to fix the desperate situation which this new administration has inherited from the previous government. This is not the job of one man, this is a job of the collective patriotic Zambians who mean well for the country. It is a matter of fact that HH acting alone cannot fix the economy, he cannot fix our financial distress without the help and support of intelligent and wise Zambians.
This country is blessed with so much human resource, we have a youthful population both at home and in the diaspora, which can be called upon to serve the country we love. It will require the sacrifice of all of us to bring about the kind of change we want for our beloved mother Zambia. Time for politicking is over, it is time to answer the call of duty and put our people back to work through job creation. The mistake made by the Kennedy administration in the United States of America during the 60s over the Vietnam war cannot be overlooked, and should be avoided. The Democratic Party of the Kennedy administration continued to play politics with the Vietnam war, in the hope that if they won the war then they could use that single event in history to secure a second term. Therefore, they had from the beginning set their eyes on trying to secure a second term at the expenses of listening to the people and delivering on certain promises since they took office. This is a lesson for the UPND administration; they should forget about politics and get to work. I believe that if they truly serve the Zambian people well with a single eye, their labours and efforts will then speak for themselves in 2026 when we go to the polls again.
The answer to our problems lies with the cabinet ministers, provincial ministers, civil servants and diplomats of whom the President will singlehandedly pick to serve the people. The critical question then is; will the 7th Republican president pick and choose the best and the brightest among us? Will this team of experts, ministers, civil servants and diplomats have the intelligence and wisdom needed to save this country from a path of distraction? Perhaps, we need to remind ourselves that the President has set out the criteria he will be using to pick his team. He is on record of saying he will appoint people based on merit (qualifications), regional representation and credibility. Thus, it is incumbent upon us to hold this President accountable to his word and his promise. It is our hope and pray that the President will do the right thing for the country. We want this President to succeed, because if President HH succeeds then we all succeed and Zambia succeeds.