JACK ZIMBA, Lusaka
WHEN President-elect Edgar Lungu delivered his victory speech to thousands of his supporters at Woodlands Stadium last Tuesday, one evident aspect was that he was reaching out to the opposition.
Mr Lungu also made clear his plan for the next five years and how he wants to run his government.
No doubt Mr Lungu is treating this as his own new mandate, and hence may change his leadership style and structures.
Mr Lunguâ€™s immediate task will be to compose his Cabinet – a team of men and women he is going to work with to fulfil his agenda.
Governance analyst Reuben Lifuka says this is going to be a very difficult exercise for the President, as he has only a limited number of Cabinet ministers to appoint and there are no longer deputy ministers provided for in the current constitution.
Last year when Mr Lungu first won the presidency, he retreated to Mfuwe and selected most members of his Cabinet from there, obviously to give him an opportunity to reflect.
At least one thing Mr Lungu will not have to worry about is the position of Vice-President, which is already taken care of by the amended Constitution.
It is well-known by now that Mrs Inonge Wina, who was his running mate in the August election, is taking up that position.
The general election has knocked out eight former ministers, these are: Richwell Siamunene (Defence), Copperbelt Minister Mwenya Musenge, North-Western Province Minister Poninso Njeulu, Yamfwa Mukanga, who was Minister of Works and Supply, Michael Kaingu who was Minister of Higher Education.
Others who did not make it were Christabel Ngimbu, who was Minister of Lands, Grayford Monde, who was Minister of Livestock and Fisheries, and Davies Mwila (Home Affairs).
And what may be certain is that former Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda will not be making it on the list of Cabinet Ministers.
The 76-year-old, who has been in charge of the countryâ€™s treasury for the past five years, has indicated he wants to take the back seat.
Fackson Shamenda is another face that is likely not to make it back into Cabinet, after serving as Minister of Labour for over three years.
Dr John Phiri, was unable to file his nomination but it is up to the President if he wants him to continue as Minister of Education.
If the government structure does not change, the President will have 22 ministerial positions to fill.
Ministry of Defence,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Ministry of Finance,
Ministry of Justice,
Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry
Ministry of Tourism,
Ministry of Home Affairs,
Ministry of Health,
Ministry of Gender,
Ministry of Community Development and Social Welfare,
Ministry of Youth and Sports,
Ministry of Higher Education,
Ministry of General Education,
Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs,
Ministry of Agriculture,
Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries,
Ministry of Local Government,
Ministry of Mines and Natural Resources,
Ministry of Energy,
Ministry of Information,
Ministry of Transport and Communication, and
Ministry of Labour and Social Security Minister.
So what will the next Cabinet look like?
Says Mr Lifuka: â€œIt is my sincere hope that President Lungu will seek to appoint the best available talent and not merely assume a â€˜Jobs for the Boysâ€™ approach. I foresee him appointing a good number of his previous Cabinet ministers as nominated MPs. Margaret Mwanakatwe, Given Lubinda, Harry Kalaba, Chishimba Kambwili, Vincent Mwale will most likely continue.â€
So far, Mr Lungu seems to have a lot of faith in former Minister of Energy Dora Siliya, who just retained her Petauke Central parliamentary seat.
He recently described her as â€œa formidable and accomplished politician.â€ One would bet she will bounce back into Cabinet.
From the time he took up office last year, Mr Lungu has shown remarkable willingness to work with women, and he even laid it as the basis why he should be re-elected when he was campaigning for the presidency.
But how many women does he have to choose from?
From his own party, Mr Lungu has the familiar faces of Jean Kapata, Dora Siliya, Professor Nkandu Luo, Margaret Mwanakatwe and Emmerine Kabanshi, who retained their seats.
And of course he is still allowed to nominate eight individuals to Parliament.
Who will make it on that list is hard to predict.
The President may also fall on the list of independent MPs, and the next Parliament has a record 11.
And nothing stops him from picking from the opposition political parties.
Last year, Mr Lungu appointed three MPs from the United Party for National Development to ministerial positions, although the decision did not sit well with the opposition party and there were attempts to expel the three lawmakers.
On the economy, Mr Lifuka says President Lungu must come up with a strong team to revive the economy.
â€œThe inescapable situation in Zambia is that the majority of our people continue to wallow in abject poverty. While the PF should be commended for their efforts in infrastructure development, the next five years should be about using this infrastructure to deliver socio-economic development. Reviving the economy should be the first priority. Government needs to exercise fiscal discipline and we need to address all areas of wasteful expenditure in this country,â€ he says.
He adds: â€œPresident Lungu should put in place a strong economics team – men and women who are capable of working with him to bring a new lease of life in our economy. We need the right economic framework that will continue to attract Foreign Direct Investment as well as local participation.â€
So who will Mr Lungu pick for Finance?
Will it be Mrs Mwanakatwe, with her high credentials?
The 48-year-old holds a degree in Business Administration. She is also a Chartered Certified Accountant with a wide experience in banking, not only in Zambia.
Overall, who will make it into Mr Lunguâ€™s Cabinet is entirely up to him as prescribed by the Constitution under Article 116 (1).
For now we can only speculate. Let us wait.
Lunguâ€™s next 5 years
JACK ZIMBA, Lusaka