Editor's Comment

Essence of Cabinet teamwork

Government complex.

CABINET ministers are expected to be team players.
They are also expected to be conversant with the manifesto governing their political organisations. In this case, all Cabinet ministers should have copies of the Patriotic Front manifesto in their offices, homes and, to some extent, their vehicles.
They should also be custodians of the country’s development plans such as the Seventh National Development Plan and Vision 2030.
That is why when changes are made at Cabinet level, ministers should move to the next work station with a mindset of not going there to re-invent the wheel.
It is expected that during hand-over, the in-coming ministers will be brought to speed on the various projects and programmes the ministry is involved in; from completed projects to on-going and planned.
After the hand-over and orientation, that is when the new minister will then find out from his new team why some projects may have stalled or been abandoned.
And so while it is generally accepted that ‘new brooms sweep clean’, they need the knowledge of the corners and more importantly which parts have already been swept.
This is why President Edgar Lungu has warned reshuffled and newly-appointed ministers against abandoning progressive programmes started by their predecessors.
President Lungu advises the ministers to instead build on the foundation laid by their predecessors because most of these projects were approved by Cabinet.
The Head of State said this at State House yesterday when he swore in Ndola Central Member of Parliament Emmanuel Mulenga as Minister of Youth, Sport and Child Development.
Mr Lungu said being reshuffled does not mean starting afresh and abandoning what the predecessor started.
He said the PF is still in government and programmes must therefore continue.
Ministers sit in Cabinet and are part of decision-making. Abandoning projects initiated or overseen by their predecessors sends wrong signals to the staff at the respective ministries.
In fact, the staff are key to the success of any ministry or Government department. The technocrats, for instance, provide the essential professional guidance on prudent use of resources and implementation of projects.
It also does not hurt, as a minister, to consult your predecessor on how best to make use of available resources and what projects to prioritise.
This, however, does not mean that a minister cannot impact his or her leadership style. Leaders have different approaches to problem solving and implementation of plans.
Some are abrasive, some are parental, others are a mixed-grill of the two. Whatever the choice of leadership, what matters is ensuring that they do not lose the bigger picture of achieving collective goals.
These goals are, as the President said, mostly approved by Cabinet and the onus for the respective ministries is to ensure that these are implemented quickly and within set costs and standards.
These projects being collective decisions, it shall be expected that the ministers will enhance their support for each other because success for one is success for all others and most importantly for all Zambians, whom they serve.
This spirit of support for each other is often solidly exhibited during debate in Parliament.
Let this unity be amplified in the day-to-day operations of the ministries, of course, careful not to overstep their boundaries of direct responsibility.
It’s like a soccer team. Players can be moved by the coach to play in different positions but the main objective remains the same – to score and to defend.
The players will complement each other’s positions, encourage each other and celebrate together along with the rest of the nation when they win. That is the essence of teamwork.

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