HH HAS MADE HISTORY WHICH WILL TAKE TIME TO ERASE
“He is the first President to clock almost a month without a cabinet after being decared winner”.
There’s been a sustained demand for the President to name his Cabinet, which demand has not been made on any other President we have had. He has been accused of ‘delaying’. What benchmark are people using to say this?
The Constitution of Zambia does not prescribe a timeline for a President to name a Cabinet. Articles 113 – 116 state the establishment, composition and functions of Cabinet. That’s all. Therefore, it can be said that time is the President’s discretion.
So, what is being called a ‘delay’ is just a product of people’s high expectations and anxieties, but also the understandable urgency to get government business going after the election.
In the last 30 years, our presidents have taken between five and eighteen days to complete Cabinet appointments. So what’s the basis for the ‘delay’ claim?
Chiluba took office on November 2, he had Cabinet on the 8th – six days.
Mwanawasa was inaugurated on January 2 and unveiled his Cabinet five days later on January 7. He was sworn-in for a second term on October 3 and announced Cabinet on the 9th, six days after.
RB took over on November 2 and named his team on November 14. That’s 12 days. Cabinet remained in place after Mwanawasa’s death.
Sata was inaugurated on September 23 and announced Cabinet on the 29th – six days.
Lungu was inaugurated on January 25 and announced the first group on February 12. That’s 18 days. Like in the 2008 case, Cabinet remained in place after Sata’s death. Sworn-in for a second time on September 13, he announced part of it a day after and the remainder two weeks later on the 29th.
Hichilema got into office on August 24 and more than a week later, he has one Minister.
I have no idea what’s going on in Hichilema’s office, but here’s my take on the so-called delay.
First, there’s a view that having waited this long to be President, Hichilema should have had his list in place by now. Fair point. But it’s not that elementary. It’s not just typing names. Also, decisions at that level can change so fast in a short time as informed by emerging dynamics.
For instance, what he knew about some people (even his closest allies) may have changed in the last one week now that he has access to more information as supplied by The System.
Second, having assembled an alliance, he has several interests to take care of. This comes against his promises of a “lean Cabinet” and “a Cabinet from all the corners of Zambia.” It’s a tough balancing act that he must address.
Forget about what the alliance members are claiming that they are not there for positions. I don’t think even Hichilema himself believes that. Should
they get nothing, the mockery from the opposition will be too much to deal with. They will be told, ‘He used and dumped you’. That can threaten the alliance and Hichilema should know that too well.
Third, let’s put Chiluba aside, he’s probably an outlier on this one. Hichilema finds himself in a unique position. Mwanawasa, RB, Sata and Lungu had been in government (and Cabinet) before they became President and had an idea of the Cabinet dynamics, experience and capacities of the faces they had to choose from. Hichilema doesn’t have that. If he gets a second term, he will not have that problem.
Fourth, as a first timer he’s under so much pressure that he’s being too cautious and is aiming for perfection to confound critics. Unfortunately, that will not happen. There’s no perfection in this business and critics won’t keep quiet even if he assembled angels for ministers.
My conclusion is that the accusation of ‘delay’ is unfounded and misplaced. If he needs another one week to get what he wants, let him have it.
Credit: Reginald Ntomba