JACK ZIMBA, Lusaka
PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema must utterly have avoided the pig. Ah! Of course I’m not referring to the dainty bacon and spare ribs, our Adventist brother would never touch those, lest he commit religious sacrilege. I’m referring here to the political P.I.G – the Party and its Government; the old political system of the one party state era under UNIP and Kenneth Kaunda back in the 1990s and beyond. Of course that is too far for millennials to relate. I’m talking about the governance system that drew no clear distinction between the ruling party and Government, something that became prominent under the PF in the past 10 years. In many instances, district commissioners’ offices became an extension of the party secretariat where one had to prove allegiance to the ruling party in order to get help. Even foreign missions became an extension of the ruling party, run by members who could freely run party errands using diplomatic passports. In fact the pig was well fattened in the previous administration until it grew into hogzilla – the monstrous beast that could no longer be tamed; it ran wild and in the end swallowed up its masters whole. It’s a system where some permanent secretaries and district commissioners could not tell where the party function ended and where the government function started.
A system that promoted a kind of political hegemony where those in power and those connected to those in power thrived, while those outside cringed. And so while HH gloated over what he thinks is an ethnically diverse selection of his long-awaited team of permanent secretaries last week, one thing that became apparent is that he allowed the pig to rear its ugly head again. This by appointing some party stooges as controlling officers in Government, including key ministries such as Home Affairs and Internal Security, where someone was named hours after he had relinquished his party position while, I’m sure, keeping his political regalia and motive.
And of course a week before that, HH also appointed a good number from among the rank and file of UPND as district commissioners, something very akin to the deposed regime. I know those within the red family, and perhaps a large part of the 2.8 million (and please forgive me for using this divisive statistical reference) will not see anything wrong in that. But this poses a frightful prospect – the rebirth of the old system, or rather new pig; a system which many who voted for HH and UPND loathed and wanted the country to break away from by all means. HH, himself, sung about a professional civil service to the last day of the campaign, and after his election.
And it is all because he, himself, was a victim of a civil service that was not professional; it had men and women who could take and execute any orders that came from above regardless of whether they were not in national interest or not necessarily lawful. Let’s just be plain-honest, the civil service cannot run professionally when ministries are headed by people with divided loyalty – with one leg in the party and another in Government, whose loyalty is not necessarily to the Republican President, but to the party president. Yes, the pig kills professionalism in the civil service and replaces it with patronage; the pig promotes inefficiency and makes those who belong to the ruling party become untouchable in institutions, just because they can pick up a phone and call the SG or the PS. And of course the pig by nature is such a gluttonous and greedy animal that wants everything to itself. The pig expects all and sundry to chant the party slogan. In the end, all we have is the President and his yes-men. Like Solomon says, “It is the little foxes that spoil the field.” And while the pig may look small at the moment, one day it will grow into hogzilla, and this is how: First the minister will appoint an institutional board with the PS as member, and led by a party loyalist, and the board will appoint or endorse a party loyalist to head the institution, and the CEO will influence who gets the job within the institution, and this influence will trickle down to who gets the loan approved and who gets the contract signed. In the end, what seemed like an innocent appointment will become a hindrance to those who do not belong to the ruling party – the door will be shut to them and they will be pushed away from the dinner table. Before we know it, “Bally” will become the password to loans and contracts. But who wants that? Is that not what the people of Zambia voted against on August 12?
Yes, the Zambian people voted for change from the old system and old way of doing things because they deemed it oppressive and divisive, but like I have said before on this forum, change must not be in form only, but in character. Ice is still water, only in solid form, all you need is to let it thaw and it will flow. What we now have is more less the same old, same old. Eventually, the divisive culture of the ruling class versus the rest of the citizens will creep on us, where the cake is shared at the top by those with the right connections while the rest get whatever falls off from there. And yes, it is the pig that breeds corruption in all its facets. It is the pig that gave birth to the ubomba mwibala mentality, which promotes daylight robbery. But let us also remember that the pig thrived in a one party system of Kenneth Kaunda, but democracy is toxic environment in which it cannot survive for long. No, Bally, by all means, you should have crushed the head of the pig. On these appointments, you have reneged on your word. PS: PS is not a lucrative position unless you plan to steal. For comments email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, WhatsApp line 0979309545
JACK ZIMBA, Lusaka