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Declare April 28 Presidents’ Day in honour of past leaders

SUBSCRIBERS to the maxim of leadership and strategic thinking will attest to the fact that any form of organisation needs leaders.
In fact, there is no society that has succeeded without credible leadership in place. Forget the type of leader a given institution or society may have, the fundamental point is that there is always a figurehead at the apex of any organisation whose interest is to deal with matters of common good.
This aphorism is applicable in our everyday lives and more so at personal level. To be an upright person, one needs to instill a great sense of personal leadership to manage themselves. Societies have held together and transmogrified due to committed leadership at every level of society.
The reference to leadership from the outset is aimed at contextualising the discourse at hand because as a nation, we have transitioned from one leadership to another since we attained self-rule. To date, Zambia holds a proud record of peaceful handover of political power from Presidents Kenneth Kaunda, Frederick Chiluba, Levy Mwanawasa, Rupiah Banda, and Michael Sata to Edgar Lungu without any form of mayhem.
This has not been an easy feat to achieve in comparison to what other countries in sub- Saharan Africa have experienced. This discourse should not be misconstrued to be speechifying personalities but the Presidency as an institution of leadership in relation to the central role it plays in the everyday Zambian society. In the history of Zambian Presidency, we are on sixth President. This is not an easy feat to attain at all in comparison to other countries who are stuck with singular leaders who seem to have anointed themselves as the alpha and omega with an extreme sense of self-entitlement and no room for transition in the nearest foreseeable future. If one astutely looks at the presidents that Zambians have elected, each presented some exceptional form of uniqueness that has contributed to the development of the country in their own unmatched manner. This is not a wholesale statement but one which could be subjected to detailed scrutiny and proved right. For this discourse, probing the distinctiveness of Kenneth Kaunda, Frederick Chiluba, Levy Mwanawasa, Rupiah Banda, Michael Sata and Edgar Lungu’s leadership style may be a topic for another day. However, it is cardinal to recognise that Zambia as a nation has venerated the weight of leadership in the management of its affairs. If the country has placed premium on leadership, it is cardinal for the nation to set aside a day on which we recognise the Presidency as a driving force in a nation’s quest to achieve greater heights at all strata of development. In view of this recognition, it is this author’s proposal that Zambia declares April 28 ‘Zambia Presidents’ Day’. This day should be set aside to reflect on the past and present leadership as a means of preserving their legacy.
On April 28, 2018, Zambia will be honouring the 94th birthday of the founding President of the Republic of Zambia Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda. This is the man who is venerated within and beyond the borders of our country because of the significant role he has played in African and global politics. It is not a secret that President Kenneth Kaunda remains a colossus on Zambia’s political landscape after all. He and many other comrades of his such as Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula, Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe, Vernon J. Mwaanga, Peter Matoka, Justin Musonda Chimba, Julia Chikamoneka just to mention but a few brawled for the liberation of our nation from the pangs of colonialism.
We have time and again recognised the selfless work of this cabal during national events like independence day. For being the first President of the Republic of Zambia, we have generally showered praises on this son of the soil. Praises are not enough, there is need to do more. It is now time for us to put in place practical measures that would see his legacy and that of other past Presidents preserved through the ‘Zambia Presidents’ Day’. The interrogation that arises obviously is the practicality of such a day.
It is acknowledged that Zambia already has well spread public holidays. In view of that, April 28 should not be declared a public holiday at all but an official day with a build-up to it through lessons, activities and other national events that honour the past and present presidencies. This is one authentic manner in which Zambia can institutionalise on a national scale the preservation of Kenneth Kaunda, Frederick Chiluba, Levy Mwanawasa, Rupiah Banda, Michael Sata, Edgar Lungu and future Presidents’ legacies.
One would further submit that the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs could play a cardinal role in the modalities of how this day will be commemorated as it is at the epicentre of guiding the nation.
Organisations and other key stakeholders should be given the latitude to organise events that would help the nation celebrate the efforts of the past and present presidents.
Some people have spoken in jest that “Zambians have very short memories”. While this remains a cliché, this author fears this assertion could turn out to be true because without deliberate efforts, the legacies of the past presidents may soon dissipate in thin air to the extent that we may have to rely on outsiders to impart it in us. We should never forget that Zambia is fostered on a solid foundation of Christian, moral, traditional and constitutional principles. The primary custodian and example of these virtues is the presidency. It therefore just makes worthy sagacity that the nation sets aside a day that recognises the past and the present leadership through this proposed day: declare April 28 Presidents’ Day.
The author is a Lusaka based observer of African & international affairs.