By George Lubasi
“There are two things I want in Western Province. Mr. Fackson [Shamenda], tell Mr. Kambwili I want a stadium in Western Province almost immediately. I want King Lewanika University at Namushakende.”
If you were ever in doubt, that is how President Sata communicates with his Cabinet Ministers – just shouting instructions in front of television cameras and he thinks that becomes public policy.
It would be interesting to know exactly how Shamenda relayed the information to Kambwili. He probably said: “Bawishi umfweni, twachiba naba mudala uluchelo ku State House. Batile mwambepo ukukula ichibansa ku bu Lozi mukwangufyanya.”
It has never been in doubt that President Sata has a very simplistic understanding of governance. His cheerers (and there are many) like to say he is a simple man who doesn’t like complicating things, and therefore, that explains the way he goes about public affairs. That’s nonsense. There is a decent and standard way government business is conducted. That behaviour at State House was uncalled for. Declarations and publicity stunts are not what bring development. There is something in this world called ‘planning’.
He wants to see a stadium standing “almost immediately”. Was the stadium budgeted for? In which year? At what cost? If it was planned and budgeted for, why is it only being announced at the end of the year? Where exactly in Western Province was it planned to be built? Why was a stadium a priority over health centres, for instance? A university is a good thing. But it’s not assembled overnight like a kantemba.
Six districts for Western Province were announced yesterday. Decentralization is not about creating districts. It’s about transferring financial and administrative authority from Lusaka to the districts. If the existing districts don’t have that financial and admin authority and perpetually look to the ‘almighty’ Lusaka, what will this haphazard declaration of districts achieve? You can count from yesterday when these so called new districts will see one office building.
All these issues concerning Western Province are a kneejerk reaction. There is some very cheap game that Sikota Wina is playing along with his nephew Fred M’membe. Sata, ever the captive, is the willing follower.
Wina has all along been a sworn enemy of Sata. He previously accused Sata of having told lies to Chiluba that his wife, Princess Nakatindi Wina, was involved in the failed 1997 coup together with Dean Mungomba, Rajan Mahthani and Kenneth Kaunda. As is well known, the Princess languished at Mukobeko, during which time Wina also located to be with his wife (no doubt a very good example of a loving husband). Wina, who is deeply disliked among Lozis for his treacherous role in the Barotseland Agreement fiasco, has now strangely accepted to be Sata’s personal envoy in an attempt to placate the Lozis. Ask any Lozi, they will tell you that if Sata was looking for an envoy to Barotseland, he could have chosen someone else, not Wina. He is discredited.
Wina advised Sata that the best way of winning over the despondency in Western Province was to exploit the resignation of the Ngambela and declare that the Government would protect the Litunga. The aim was to create an impression that Sata cares for the Litunga more than those that are backing Sinyinda. Wina’s nephew, M’membe, using his propaganda sheet, played along his uncle’s scheme to the extent of fabricating a story last week that the Litunga had disowned the Barotse National Council resolutions.
When both the BRE and the Catholic priests dismissed the story, M’membe, being the discredited fellow that he is, never bothered to apologise and just pretended no lie was ever told. Take note that during Rupiah Banda’s presidency, M’membe was, as usual, outspoken and pontificating about the need to honour the BA 1964. But of late, he has taken a very new position on the matter, while singing praises of Sata – Michael this, Michael that.
Since the schemers were left deflated over their lies last week concerning the Litunga, they quickly had to find a way of swinging the focus. So they regrouped over the weekend and fed their scheming to Sata. As the Bembas would say, nao Sata temukani. He swallowed the hook as it was thrown. The result was the six districts, a stadium and a university – all unplanned for and all unbudgeted for.
The haphazard manner they were announced says much about how all this is not in any government plan. Ask any minister where these issues were planned for and you will not find any. For some reason, swearing-in ceremonies have increasingly lost their purpose under Sata. They have just become a forum for making announcements not related to the occasion. Yesterday’s one took in creation of districts, stadiums, universities, wages at Zambezi Portland Cement, wages for journalists, and all sundry. His image builders in Rhodespark (who are themselves in serious need of image redemption) have screamed today that Sata is “out to honour campaign promises.” How cheap!
Governance made simple.