By Lawrence Zyambo
Presidency, etiquette and consistency
The reign of the Patriotic Front (PF) government, from September 2011 to-date has brought to the fore the importance of some of the issues which as Zambians, for a long time had taken for granted. For those of you who were still in doubt of what to expect from the PF government, when it was just ushered into power, in terms of presidency and presidential etiquette, we were greeted with the not-seen before scenes of the republican president having to pay cash from his own pocket for his accommodation bill at a hotel and having to use public transport to travel.
While most Zambians, still nursing their hangovers after celebrating the PF victory, misconstrued such tantrums by the PF government as genuine attempts to reduce public expenditure, some of us saw these tantrums for what they really were: a sign of what to come and expect from the PF government on a regular basis. In truth these tantrums were as a result of, primarily, the lack of planning by the PF before forming government and secondarily, an excitement of forming government without expecting it.
From those initial tantrums to-date a lot of you, now in hindsight, don’t even want to be reminded of what the PF government’s record has been on presidential etiquette. The very important office of presidency has been stripped to its bare. You do remember embarrassing incidents from the early days of the president nominating more ministers than he is allowed by law, through the days of the president playing with his guests’ bald heads, to the days of the president appearing in court as a witness to mention only but a few. We all have been left to wonder how such events were allowed to happen when they shouldn’t have in the first place.
If the above embarrassing events weren’t enough, well, the PF government has never been short of other embarrassing moments for us its citizenry. Look at how the same government has been inconsistent in handling rumors of the health of the head of state. On one side the vice president says the head of state is not sick but fit and working, on the other his counterpart, the minister of labour concedes the head of state is ill by saying its normal for anyone to fall sick.
Maybe this is not enough embarrassment for you. Maybe you need another example? Well, you won’t be disappointed because there is more where the above examples come from. Here is another one for you. Due to delays in releasing the draft constitution by the Technical committee tasked by government, a leaked document finds itself in the hands of the citizenry and guess how government reacts? Yes you guessed right. One government official says the leak is not authentic while another says the technical committee should explain how such a confidential document found itself leaked. How inconsistent can a government be countrymen and women? These are supposed to be basics of a test of etiquette and consistency on the part of government yet these have made such headlines under the PF government.
I do not enjoy reminding you of how bad it has been since 2011. I am sure most of you, just like me, would like to one day wake up and find it was just a bad dream. Unfortunately it is not a dream. It is a way of life under the PF government.
The good news, however, is that going forward there is a silver lining. Some light at the end of the tunnel. Some glimmer of hope and this is that we have an alternative in 2016. As many of you have realized by now, in Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND) we have a humble servant of the people. In him we have diplomacy, humility and etiquette personified. If any of you is in doubt about that, Just look at the contents of the letters Hikainde has written to the current head of state, Mr. Micheal Chilufya Sata in a bid to engage the head of state on several issues of national importance, one being the burning issue of the succession of the Chitimukula. Now compare that with the responses he has gotten from the president.
I don’t need to tell you countrymen and women that with Hakainde as president of this country we are certain of our now devalued currency making gains against major currencies almost immediately. These gains could come before he could even make the first policy statement, before he could even choose his cabinet. But all because of the etiquette, maturity and diplomacy Hikainde would bring to the office of presidency. Let’s help Hikainde achieve this for ourselves and our country. We have learnt our lesson. It is time to put the lesson to good use. Let us ALL vote Hakainde Hichilema and the UPND in 2016. He is unmatched and a natural in as far as these three attributes of etiquette, maturity and diplomacy are concerned hence making him a default, natural candidate of choice for 2016.