Editor's Comment

This is what Cabinet needed


HOURS after President Edgar Lungu announced changes in his Cabinet, expectations from sections of society shot up that the ministers will meet the expectations of the country.
The President’s expectation is that the ministers will be rejuvenated to perform well in the respective ministries and that they will closely monitor development projects at national level and in respective constituencies.
With this expectation in mind, which surely should be that of other Zambians, too, the ministers are reminded that they have a performance contract. If any one of them fails to meet the expectations, they will go to the backbench in Parliament.
Need they be reminded, too, that the constituents, too, are monitoring and so come 2021, even getting back to the backbench could be a tall order.
In respective ministries, there is renewed energy in some of them as was felt with the appointment of Bwalya Ng’andu as Minister of Finance.
On Sunday, President Lungu dropped Margaret Mwanakatwe as the Minister of Finance and replaced her with Mr Ng’andu, the Bank of Zambia deputy governor in charge of operations.
The decision saw the capital markets respond positively and investor confidence rise.
Clearly, changes at Cabinet level do trigger positive social, economic and political changes.
Among the ministries in where expectations are high is the Ministry of Higher Education to which the President has appointed Brian Mushimba. Expectations are that he will quickly and conclusively deal with the impasse over the closure of the Copperbelt University (CBU) in Kitwe. Parents, guardians and students’ expectations are that CBU will re-open soon.
In the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Child Development, expectations are that debutant Minister Emmanuel Mulenga’s appointment will give fresh impetus to all the sections of the ministry.
Sports, a key unifying factor, has particularly been a concern for many Zambians. The lack of major successes, to many, reflects stagnation or retrogression.
The youth segment of the ministry is also a major concern as empowerment programmes are evidently falling short of expectations despite a lot of moral and, especially, financial support.
The President has yet again put his team players in places he expects them to perform with renewed vigour and better than they already have.
As he says, the reshuffle for some of them is not necessarily that they failed in previous positions but rather because overstaying sometimes causes laxity.
All of them should assess themselves and determine whether they are up to the challenge. By placing them in these positions, the President has confidence in them delivering on the expectations and the onus is on them to do just that. This is certainly no holiday.
It is important, too, that they continue being team players – in Cabinet and in respective ministries in which the technocrats have the onerous task of providing sound advice on implementation of Government projects.
Improving efficiency and service delivery, therefore, is at the core of these reshuffles.
Tied to the reshuffles is the observation by the President that some ministers have not been visiting their constituencies to ensure Government projects and programmes are implemented and monitored.
Like the President noted, if this is allowed to continue, citizens will start habouring thoughts that Government has abandoned them.
The President has taken it upon himself to be making more frequent visits to projects to ascertain reports he gets on their progress. Sometimes, it looks like the reports he gets and what he sees on the ground are not in tandem. This should never be. Ministers must do their work.
Other than the nominated members of Parliament, ministers should always bear in mind that they owe their mandate to voters.
Apart from monitoring government projects and programmes, it is of utmost importance that MPs, who include Cabinet Ministers, regularly visit their constituencies.
MPs have responsibilities to three main groups: their constituents, Parliament and the respective political party which sponsored them.
Independent MPs are answerable to government and the people who voted for them.
MPs’ duties go beyond participating in debates and voting on legislation and other matters. They need to be current with what is obtaining in their constituencies.
The President has made it very categorical that he will not hesitate to part ways with ministers who will not improve their performance.
Being forewarned is being fore-armed.

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