I won’t mind selecting a competent cabinet from one province- Tembo

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”I will constitute my cabinet based on only one consideration: competence. Other peripheral factors such as regional balance, tribal balance, gender balance etcetera, will not be considered. Therefore, if based on my assessment, the most competent team is all female or all male or is from one province or two provinces, then so be it,” writes Sean Tembo – PeP President.


  1. Let us say it is Monday, 16th August 2021 and, after a few days of speculation and consternation across the nation, the Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) finally appears on national television to announce the presidential results for the just ended tripartite elections.

The whole nation is glued to television to get the official results.

After pushing up his spectacles, clearing his throat and arranging and re-arranging the papers in front of him, the ECZ Chairman states in his usual authoritative voice that by virtue of the powers vested in him by the Republican President, he has declared Mr Sean Enock Tembo of the Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP), as the winner of the presidential election, and is now the duly elected President of the Republic of Zambia. The question is; what kind of President would l be?

  1. Well, first things first, in terms of transitional arrangements, l would ensure the transition from the PF administration to a PeP administration is as smooth as possible.

In this regard, l would retain the entire set of constitutional office holders ranging from the heads of the defense and security wings to the Chief Justice, Attorney General, Permanent Secretaries, DPP, etcetera.

Within three to six months, l would re-interview each one of these office holders and determine who to keep and who to let go.

This is because l have always believed that the idea of an across-the-board dismissal of all constitutional office holders, whenever there is a change of Government, is arbitrary and not only results in unnecessary loss of good talent but also creates a vacuum in terms of institutional memory.

The bottom line is that the people who occupy these positions are also Zambians and they cannot be that bad that as President you want to get rid of them as quickly as possible.

Additionally, most new administrations in the past have failed to benefit from the lessons of their predecessors because of a disorderly and disruptive transition.

You see, each and every administration will do some things well and do other things badly. A new administration which expects to succeed needs to be able to embrace the good policies of the previous administration while drawing lessons from their bad policies.

Had FTJ or MCS approached their respective new administrations in this manner, l believe that Zambia would have been more developed today.

  1. In terms of my cabinet, l have always been a strong believer that Ministers need to be appointed from outside Parliament, for more reasons than one. Under the current dispensation, a cabinet minister spends very little time formulating, implementing and monitoring policies in their respective ministries.

Every afternoon, they have to attend Parliament and most Monday mornings they have to attend cabinet meetings. In between, they have to officiate here and there. I strongly believe that no matter how brilliant, no-one can perform well at their job if they do not spend enough time in their offices.

You need to push in the hours in order to understand what is going on in your Ministry and how those issues need to be resolved, so that when a minister briefs cabinet, he will be doing so from a point of knowledge and not a point of ignorance that is based on a ten-minute conversation he had with his Permanent Secretary just before the cabinet meeting.

Therefore, l intend to amend the Republican Constitution at the earliest possible time in my presidency so that ministers can be appointed from outside parliament. This will also give me a bigger pool to fish from in terms of cabinet appointments.

I am sure that this constitutional amendment will get bipartisan support in Parliament and, unlike Bill 10, it will be passed quite smoothly. In the interim period before the envisaged constitutional amendment however, l will constitute my cabinet based on only one consideration: competence.

Other peripheral factors such as regional balance, tribal balance, gender balance etcetera, will not be considered. Therefore, if based on my assessment, the most competent team is all female or all male or is from one province or two provinces, then so be it.

Cabinet appointments are not supposed to be seen as rewards but rather an opportunity to serve the Zambian people. And the Zambian people are best served not by a male cabinet minister or a female cabinet minister or a Bemba cabinet minister or a Lozi cabinet minister, no! The Zambian people are best served by the most competent cabinet minister who can do the job.

  1. When it comes to my advisors such as Political, Economic, Legal etcetera, l intend to appoint well seasoned individuals who do not only have a rich curriculum vitae, but have been widely exposed.

My idea of solid experience is not based on the number of years only, but also the exposure to most sectors. A well-rounded professional should have their experience drawn from the private sector, academia and the public sector.

Such a person is likely to look at things in a balanced manner, and academia helps one to increase their depth of thought. I would rather appoint someone who has 10 years experience divided across different sectors than one who has 30 years experience only in a single sector.

Those who spend too much time in one particular sector tend to have warped mindsets and a biased view on matters. And as Republican President, l will ensure that my advisors do not also double as my friends because it brings about an inherent conflict of interest.

I want a team of advisors who can disagree with me and tell me why they have a different view on a given matter. If l appoint an advisor and 3 months goes by without strongly disagreeing with one of my decisions, then l fire them.

I won’t tolerate luggage in my advisory team, l will need people who have diversity of thought and are not afraid to speak up. That’s my idea of a good advisor.

  1. As President of this Republic, l will get rid of some of the practices and protocols that l believe are retrogressive. For example, l will try by all means to avoid going by road from State House to Kenneth Kaunda International Airport because this brings half of Lusaka City to a standstill as roads have to be closed.

Also the police officers that have to do route-lining can be deployed to do other more productive work. The loss in economic productivity that is brought about by shutting down half of the city is immense and unnecessary.

Therefore, l will make it a must to utilize my presidential chopper to move from State House to KKIA, so that the only inconvenience that citizens will have to suffer is the loud noise.

Additionally, l will cease the practice of having cabinet ministers, heads of defense and security wings and other senior government officials parading at the airport every time l am going away or coming back.

That is totally unnecessary loss of productivity on the part of Government officials who are supposed to be in their respective offices formulating, implementing and monitoring Government policy so that we can deliver on the aspirations on the Zambian people.

Also in my view, the idea of having the entire defense and security command, consisting of the President and Defense and Security Chiefs, congregate at the airport in a predictable fashion, posses an inherent security risk.

Therefore, when l am traveling out of the country, l will only allow my Vice President to see me off and welcome me at the airport. This will be necessary because l might need to give him/her some last minute instructions or they might need to brief me on some urgent matter upon my return.

In fact, l have always seen the practice of parading the entire Government at the airport as the work of insecure presidents who try to boost their egos by lining up the people that they appointed, just for the satisfaction of looking at their anxious faces as they wait for their turn to be greeted by their appointing authority.

As President of this Republic, l will engage in no such grandiose acts. I will allow my appointees to retain their dignity and self-esteem, always reminding myself that they are not serving me but the people of Zambia.

My measure of loyalty among my appointees will be based on their ability to deliver on their respective mandates, and not their ability to welcome me at the airport.

  1. In terms of personal habits that the opposition PF and UPND might want to attack me on, l want to declare in advance that l have a sweet tooth for game meat and l like to do the hunting myself.

So l will be a regular feature in our national parks, especially given the fact that at that time, l will not have to wait for the hunting season to alive. But of course it will be responsible hunting.

In part 2, we shall look at the social-economic reforms that my Government will implement.


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