Reject Lungu’s attempt to divert attention

By M Mwenda

As expected, President Edgar Lungu and his ilk found something to divert public attention from his disastrous statement last weekend where he unashamedly endorsed theft of national resources.

In the aftermath, the country saw how a chain of ruling party functionaries fell over themselves to tell the public ‘what the President meant’.

Zambians don’t need anyone to retell something they heard for themselves.

If we have serious opposition parties in Zambia, this is one issue they must not allow to die and they must bang on it and remind voters at that hour.

Let’s now turn to President Lungu’s latest sideshow, the Cabinet reshuffle he announced on Wednesday.

In major economies, the demotion of a Finance Minister would send the markets in a tailspin. But in Lungu’s Zambia, it’s business as usual.

Felix Mutati’s entry into the Treasury was a long-awaited respite from the chaotic leadership of Alexander Chikwanda.

Mutati has been unpopular in a party that is so averse to fiscal discipline. The protests we saw a few months ago against Mutati were sponsored by the PF whose members accused him of being too tight with the purse. Lungu is only flattering Mutati. It’s highly likely he just stopped short of firing him.

Margaret Mwanakatwe becomes only the second woman to be Finance Minister, after Edith Nawakwi. She is well-educated and has been around business circles for a long time. But we don’t expect much from her. She will be a weak and ‘user-friendly’ Finance Minister who will not weather the pressures like Mutati tried to. She’s not articulate and will struggle to explain the juggernauts of the economy.

More tellingly, the Finance portfolio has remained with the RB faction that says something about where power resides.

Richard Musukwa may be a former miner, but our view is that he simply lacks the capacity and knowhow to handle an industry so strategic to our economy. His appointment to the mines portfolio reflects a serious deficit of talent in PF, thus placing the appointing authority in a bind.

Dora Siliya was a disaster at the Ministry of Agriculture. It was under her watch in two farming seasons that delivery of farming inputs was inordinately delayed while she appeared at sea with the situation.

The Government desperately needed a better mouthpiece and she will definitely do well there.

However, the same cannot be said of her predecessor who has been reassigned to the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock. We don’t want to sound mean, but her new portfolio is even more technical than the previous one.

Since his appointment as Copperbelt Minister, Bowman Lusambo has been throwing his weight around like the uncouth thug that he is. The self-proclaimed Bootlicker Number One is coming closer to the boots, but his rejection by PF cadres in Lusaka means he may well have a few run-ins with the rowdy brigade.

In bizarre circumstances Nkandu Luo remains unscathed at ministry of Education. This is a ministry that has been dogged with numerous pitfalls. She has failed to engange the students and theres clearly no rapport between her and the higher learning institutions.

CBU and UNZA remain closed in unclear state of affairs. She has vividly failed and she must leave this ministry for education to thrive in Zambia.

The rest of the changes are of no consequence and all part of a scheme to divert public attention from what has been a disaster of a week for the President and his circle.

These changes are clearly an affirmation of an experimental type of management by a self confessed visionless president. You can not solve a problem by transferring it to another ministry. The solution is to terminate the problem.

What he has done is transfer the ills of Mutati to works and supply, the inadequacies of Dora to Ministry of Information, the bootlicking and thuggery of Bowman to Lusaka province.

We urge the country not to be taken in by this ruse. Its nothing but a guise to sway the Zambians away from the presidents endorsement of corruption when he said “Ubomba Mwibala, Alya mwibala”.