The appointment of wives, relatives to state – owned enterprises

Filed under: Special Comments |

By Amb. Emmanuel Mwamba

Since time immemorial, ZESCO and State-owned enterprises have been subjected to regular political abuse.

If it is not turning them into cash-cows by hijacking the procurement process, they are used as employers of; wives, siblings and relatives.

The overstaffing suffering these institutions is among others, a result of this regular political pressure, where parastatals are forced to “create” employment and employ as many of these relatives to politicians, as possible.

It is for this reason that the appointment of Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Hon. Chipoka Mulenga’s wife Likonge Makai Mulenga as Board Chairperson of the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) and the appointment of Shesippie Banda Nzovu, spouse to Minister of Green Economy Hon. Eng. Collins Nzovu, as Head of Procurement, raises a stormy debate.

While supporters of Government may justify that the persons involved are qualified, this doesn’t take away that fact that, the persons involved have benefitted from the historical and perpetuation of abuse of state-owned enterprises by politicians.

On his part, Hon. Nzovu has defended his wife’s appointment, claiming that besides being highly qualified, she was reinstated because she was allegedly hounded out of ZESCO because of belonging to the Opposition.


It is expected that the New Dawn Government must stop or stay away from decisions and actions that promoted the rot and corruption, cronyism, nepotism, and favouritism.

It appears that to this government, everyone that was fired for corruption or unprofessional misconduct can simply claim that there were victimized because of their tribe or politics and they get a reinstatement.

Hon. Nzovu says his beloved wife was among persons dismissed from ZESCO because they belonged to the Opposition.

So borrowing his reasoning, is the current purge of senior staff at ZESCO and elsewhere, where highly qualified persons have been fired because they are suspected to be members of the PF, justified?


Similar reports have emerged that the son to the Vice President, Hon. Mutale Nalumango has been promoted as Head of Procurement at the Zambia National Service.

In this case, it debunks the myth being promoted by the assertions of persons like Hon.Nzovu.

The officer in this case, has been at ZNS for many years and was never fired because his mother was a long-serving senior leader of the Opposition.

Infact, the concerned officer kept on rising under the previous government based on his own qualifications, merit and discipline.

His and many other cases I can show, demonstrate that the victimization of persons from certain tribes or political affiliation, which has assumed proportions of truth, is heightened propaganda than driven by solid facts.

Infact the process has been taken advantage of and all those persons being reinstated just need to cry victimization based on ethnic or political affiliation.

Infact the reverse is true. All recent dismissals and the on-going purge of officers in government and state-owned institutions have targeted persons based on the same vices; Political and Ethnic affiliations.

How can you fight an illegality with illegality, fight tribalism with tribalism? And Fight persecution with persecution?


All Zambians eligible to jobs or business contracts or opportunities must have fair access to them.

They don’t need to know anyone to get a job or to do business.

If they are qualified to do such a job, or have capacity to undertake the works, they should be given an opportunity.

The continued abuse of state-owned institutions by the political stock, remains an abuse, whether done by the PF or UPND.

A wrong done by the PF, remains a wrong if it is perpetuated by the UPND Government.

ZESCO or the IDC needed to advertise all these senior positions including that of the Chief Executive Officer, to help attract the best qualified Zambians to one of Africa’s largest utility.

This is to return the bleeding utility to its strategic role in the development of our country.

Such a decision on ZESCO and many others in the energy sector, can begin to place these institutions as drivers to the development of our country.

If President Hakainde Hichilema is serious about fighting corruption, tribalism, nepotism, cronyism and favouritism, he should revoke such appointments and urge all CEO’s to abide by an acceptable developed code of conduct.


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