By Sean Tembo – PeP President

1. The problem of living in an information age is that you can easily monitor and compare the caliber and quality of leadership that we have here at home, to what other countries in the region or across the globe have. And so it was that a few days ago, l happened to watch the South African Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Naledi Pandor as she was ambushed by a journalist when she was walking out of a conference, and asked what her comments are to allegations that her Government is a mouth piece of the Hamas terrorist organization. The Minister handled the question so calmly and competently, despite not having any prior preparation or written submission. Then again the following day, l happened to watch the Kenyan Minister of Sports; Ababu Namwamba as he attended the funeral of marathon gold-medalist and record holder; Kelvin Kiptum who had passed away a week earlier in a road traffic accident. The journalist asked the Minister why his Government was only honoring the marathon gold-medalist in his death when they did not even host a welcome party for him after winning his marathon gold-medal? Again, the Minister handled the question very calmly and competently that l was left admiring.

2. The two incidents above left me wondering why we do not have such a caliber of Cabinet Ministers here in Zambia? Why is it that our Ministers, even when they don’t speak off-the-cuff but read a prepared speech, it is often unsound? In fact, most of our Ward Councillors speak more coherently and with better clarity and soundness of the mind than most Cabinet Ministers that l know. For some Cabinet Ministers whom l personally knew before being part of Cabinet, l actually feel that their competence and intellectual standing has significantly deteriorated over the past two years or so. Then l began to ask myself why? What is it in the UPND Government Cabinet that is making otherwise intelligent people to gradually become dull and grossly incompetent? And why is it that the quality of cabinet policy decisions have been steadily deteriorating over time?

3. One minute, Cabinet approves the granting of tax holidays for mine owners, most of whom are extremely rich and are non-Zambians, while the next minute the same Cabinet approves the introduction of new taxes for poor and vulnerable Zambians, such as tax on rental income, tax on mobile money transactions, turnover tax etcetera. Surely, isn’t there a single Minister in Cabinet who would argue that before we introduce additional taxes on the poor and vulnerable masses, let us first abolish the tax holidays extended to the mines. Or better still, isn’t there anyone in Cabinet who would advise the rest of Cabinet that increasing electricity new connection fees by more than 400 percent would make this clean energy unaffordable to the majority of Zambians who will subsequently resort to alternative sources of energy such as charcoal, which will lead to massive cutting down of trees and increase the risk of a major drought?

4. The bottom line is that the quality of policy decisions coming from Cabinet are so substandard that am quite sure that if we substituted the current Cabinet with randomly selected Grade 7 pupils, they would make much more sound policy decisions. Upon much thought and analysis, l came to the conclusion that one of the main reasons why we have such an inadequate and lame Cabinet is because of the management style of the President.

5. Mr Hakainde Hichilema’s leadership style is that he imposes his decisions on everyone, and everyone is expected to endorse those decisions without any question or debate. Such a leadership style would have been acceptable if the President’s decisions were often correct, but they’re not. Take for instance the President’s decision to contract an IMF loan and put the country on an IMF programme. This is a major policy decision that would have far-reaching consequences on each and every Zambian, and one would expect that the President would first widely consult before making such a decision, so that he would be fully appraised of the advantages and disadvantages of taking such a route. But in the case of President Hichilema, he made this decision before he appointed a single Minister to his Cabinet or a single advisor. In fact he made this decision while conducting an interview with BBC’s Lukwesa Burak merely 3 days after being declared winner of the 2021 general elections.

6. If President Hakainde Hichilema wanted to consider putting the country on an IMF programme, the right order of events should have been to allow for the complete appointment of the civil service technocrats and Cabinet Ministers, after which the civil servants at MoF would have undertaken a Feasibility Study of this proposed route by ensuring wide consultation of all key stakeholders including professional associations, industry associations, civil society, academic associations etcetera. Based on these consultations, the technocrats at MoF are then supposed to submit a Position Paper to the Minister of Finance. Depending on the recommendations of the Position Paper, the Minister would then make a decision on whether to take to Cabinet the proposal for Zambia to be put on an IMF programme or to simply trash the idea.

7. When the President is the one that introduces a proposed policy to Cabinet for deliberation, there is no real debate and discussion that can take place, because every Cabinet Minister will be afraid of being seen to be challenging the President, who is his boss and appointing authority. So no debate ever takes place and proposed policy decisions are merely rubber-stamped in their raw form, with serious adverse implications on the rest of the economy once implemented.

8. However, when a proposed policy is introduced by a Cabinet Minister, his fellow Cabinet Ministers view him as a peer and will not by shy or afraid to healthily debate the proposed policy to it’s logical conclusion, provided the President does not show whether he is in support or against the proposed policy prematurely before exhaustive debate has taken place. In order for Government to make the most competent policy decisions, the role of the President in Cabinet meetings is supposed to be facilitating robust and healthy debate among his Ministers. But that is not the case under the current administration where decisions are made single-handedly by the President and then taken to Cabinet for rubber-stamping, as an afterthought.

9. Take for instance the decision to export most of our maize reserve stocks to DRC, taken by Government in 2022. If this policy proposal was taken to Cabinet by the Minister of Finance, say because he wanted to raise some forex for the Treasury, in a properly functioning Cabinet, the proposed policy was supposed to meet stiff resistance from the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Green Economy who were supposed to argue that exporting our little maize stocks to DRC would undermine our food security and the Minister of Green Economy is expected to have buttressed that point by emphasizing that due to climate change, the rains are more unpredictable now compared to past years hence instead of depleting the 1 million metric tonnes of maize grain that FRA had at the time, the country should instead consider investing in more long-term grain storage facilities so that we can increase the amount of maize grain in reserve from about 1 million to say 5 million. Given the fact that the country’s total annual consumption for both humans and animals is around 800,000 metric tonnes, a reserve storage capacity of 5 million metric tonnes would be enough to ensure that no Zambian sleeps hungry and that the prices of animal feed remain stable for at least 6 years, even if we don’t have a single drop of rain during that period.

10. But due to the leadership approach of President Hakainde Hichilema, whereby instead of allowing adequate consultation and healthy debate on key policy decisions, he makes a one-man decision and then imposes it on everyone else. Unfortunately, most of the President’s decisions turnout to be total disaster, adding to the suffering of the Zambian people. The decision to export more than 1 million metric tonnes of reserve maize to DRC during the 2021/2022 farming season will prove to be fatal to most citizens this year because the 2022/2023 farming season had a very poor yield, not due to any drought, but due to Government’s failure to properly distribute farming inputs on time and in adequate quantities. As we can all see now, the 2023/2024 farming season has turned out to be tragic due to widespread drought across the country. About 6 months ago, the FRA Board Chairperson was saying that there was less than 300,000 metric tonnes of maize grain in stock, and only God knows how much is now remaining. Already, we have heard Vice President Mutale Nalumango trying to convince Zambians that GMO mealie meal is safe. Well, if it is safe, then why do our laws prohibit GMO food? Evidently, just because of the self-centered leadership approach of President Hakainde Hichilema, the Zambian people have now found themselves in a situation whereby we exported most of our safe Non-GMO maize to Angola, only to start importing and consuming the unsafe GMO maize from South Africa. This is not only incompetence on the part of the President, it is dereliction of duty. The nation is in urgent need of a visionary leader who has the humility to consult others and the foresight to drive our national fortunes to greater heights. The two years remaining for Mr. Hakainde Hichilema feels like an eternity, going by the way things are going wrongly everyday. The only question that remains is whether the Zambian people are willing and ready to retire Mr. Hichilema in the national interest in 2026, so that he can go and practice his self-centered leadership style at his farm? Are you ready for a revolution? Are you ready to SET Zambia Free? Anyway, the Future is SET


SET 24.02.2024


  1. Ba Tembo, this is an excellent contribution. However, if you want Zambians to consider your contributions as genuine, first tell us why you bolted from Botswana. Because if you swindled the Botswana Government, this whole thing comes to zero.
    So let’s hear it what happened?

    • The man Has explained many times what happened. He was the Plaintiff in the Botswana case. He sued his former employee and won the case. Malicious people took evidence which surrounded the case and wrongly used it as gospel truth. You guys specialise in peddling lies. Just shut up and go and find the correct information yourself. Idiot.


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