HAVING named his Cabinet, we hope Hakainde Hichilema will get serious and start respecting time. Since receiving the instruments of power, he has religiously kept his work ethic as if he’s still a private citizen. In fact, we don’t recall when Hakainde was on time for a press briefing during his time in opposition. This seems to be his weakness – time keeping. We hope he doesn’t join Russia’s Vladimir Putin who is famous for keeping other leaders – presidents – waiting even for an hour during international engagements!
Hakainde, for instance, on Tuesday kept the entire country waiting, the whole day, for him to swear-in his Cabinet! And he couldn’t even apologise for his usual tendencies of announcing important decisions or policy in late hours! He needs to adjust his schedule. Everywhere in the world, important announcements, declarations, appointments are done utmost mid-morning! You can’t keep the entire nation waiting for you to announce an ordinary Cabinet! Yes, he was doing some balancing act but keeping the entire nation glued to TVs and their smartphones the whole day! Come on! These are not opposition politics. We expect him to improve this time. He is now Republican President and needs to act Republican. And time keeping is part of presidential etiquette. He needs to adjust to republican presidential status. He will not turn things around by keeping citizens, the workers the whole day waiting for his scheduled address! We can’t all become nocturnal workers!
As Miles Davis warns, “Time isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing.” And Tom Greening adds that, “All time management begins with planning.”
No one looks forward to going to State House and go and stand, loiter for three, four hours and then start listening to a President who speaks for close to an hour. Who is in charge of these media engagements for the President? Fixing, of whatever deserves that, must start with proper time management. It’s unfair, not only to journalists but all groupings, to have presidential handlers who take serious public matters with a cavalier attitude. Let time be followed, unlike grounding people’s productivity. The disorganisation of not following time should remain at the UPND secretariat on Provident Street in Fairview area. Presidential programmes must be scripted so that people, especially journalists with tight deadlines, can go and work. It’s not like newsroom business is centred on the presidency – not even for the public media. So, whoever is managing presidential media events, make use of your watch and also prepare him on what to speak and probably for how long. The President cannot be allowed to deliver essay after essay, even on issues which need emphasis for 10 to 15 minutes. He still has up to August 2026 to say some of the things that he says – during his many instances of wandering in speech. Zambians expect better and we hope this gets rectified soonest.
A Chinese proverb states that, “An inch of time is an inch of gold but you can’t buy that inch of time with an inch of gold.”
William Shakespeare put it aptly when he said, “Better three hours too soon, than one minute too late.”