By Eros Ilunga
The PF government has been in power for four months and 12 days but it is becoming clear to most of us that it has governance problems. In fact some of the things happening will make Rupiah Banda look like a saint. I am prompted to make this observation because of the changes the President made to his government’s structure on Friday but also looking at the pattern of governance we have seen in the last for months.
Governance has been characterized by u-turns, apparent off-the-cuff pronouncements of policy matters which smacks of lack of planning and coordination and reckless restructuring of government, not to mention hiring and firing officers.
PF has u-turned on some of its major campaign promises namely, windfall tax, a new constitution within 90 days and the restoration of the Barotse Agreement.
From the onset it was obvious this will be governance by pronouncement. We saw the President make a lot of pronouncements at his myriad swearing-ins. Some of these were the renaming of our airports, abolition of the office of Secretary to the Treasury, increasing the retirement age to 65 and dissolution of various boards.
We have also witnessed the reckless and costly restructuring of government. In October barely three weeks after forming government, the Gender portfolio was moved from Labour ministry to Cabinet Office. This was at a swearing-in ceremony of service chiefs. Now yesterday the Labour portfolio was transferred to Information and Broadcasting to follow its former minister Shamenda whose performance at Labour was dismal. Tourism was grabbed from Shamenda and transferred to Foreign Affairs to follow versatile Given Lubinda who was minister responsible just a few weeks ago. Rowdy Chishimba Kambwili was moved from Foreign Affairs to Labour (probably to deal with the Chinese) but now the Chinese have been taken away from him!
You do not remove a portfolio from a government department because of the holder’s weakness. If the President thinks a minister is not performing accordingly or is having problems in the ministry, he should remove that minister rather than removing the ministry. If this will be the trend how often will the structure of government change? One is left to conclude that the PF government does not believe in its own structure of government. It will not be surprising to hear that the portfolio of vice presidency has been transferred to finance!
It seems PF does not have clear plans of what it wants to achieve or how it wants to achieve it. Look at the issue of 100% pay rise for health workers. I do not think Kambwili just woke up from slumber made such a pronouncement. He is too smart for that. This blunder was made because there is no clear plan of how PF wants to achieve its objectives. Secondly the issue of consultation and following proper governance procedure is a big problem in PF. The whole kerfuffle had to take GBM to ‘clarify’ the ‘misquotation’? Was he the right person to do this?
And a few days ago we saw the hiring and firing of District Commissioners. Just when will this circus end?
If NAREP was in government, such blunders would be understood because they have never been in government before. But Mr Sata has been in government since the UNIP days and was in opposition for 10 years. Surely he and his PF should have developed craft and a clear plan of how they want to run government.
If PF has any rectitude, they should own up and find a better ways of running the affairs of this country. PF still has a great opportunity to turn the fortunes of this country around because of the goodwill the party has enjoyed from the Zambian people. But history will judge PF harshly if they fail to rectify these governance blunders being pointed out to them.