Dear Mr President,
The drama, anxiety and tension is done. The Presidential by-election is behind us and Zambia has yet again ushered in a new Republican President.
Congratulations on your appointment and may God be your guide in this important job.
I take this opportunity to draw your attention to a few things that in my view are of critical and immediate importance.
1. Heal the nation
This election and the campaigns have exposed a delicate cancer we must wipe out. The nation has been left polarised on tribal lines. Never have we seen conversations, discussions and opinions degenerate to the tribe one is.
For the first time, we have witnessed colleagues that have co-existed all along differ and be at odds bitterly with tribe at the heart of these differences. This cannot be right and we must curb this for the sake of our future.
Your role Mr President is to bring this nation together. We must remember we are One Zambia, One Nation. We are Zambians and that is the most important thing. It is my hope that this will reflect in your approach, appointments and aspirations for this country. This must by all means be a priority.
2. New Constitution
The nation has spoken several times and the demand of we the people has been clear. We need a new a Constitution. It may not be perfect but it will be the beginning of a journey to correct some of the inherent flaws we have experienced as a nation.
It may not be far from the truth that we are fatigued because of this dragging process. Tired of the different Constitution commissions, roadmaps and pronouncements. It is time to execute and deliver. Mr President, you have the opportunity to make history by delivering a people driven constitution. The biggest test you face here is keeping your word.
The time has come for us to institutionalise our democracy. It has become imperative that we do so and there can be no better time than now. It will not only save costs but it will have significant bearing on strengthening our much cherished democracy.
We expectantly will keep an eye on you Mr President, believing that this too is a matter of priority.
3. International leadership
Once again Zambia has managed a leadership transition smoothly through the ballot. This makes good reading for us as a pioneer of democracy on the continent. This is a pole position to be maintained on a continent full of questionable power struggles and imposed leadership.
Similarly, for so many years Zambia played an instrumental role in continental affairs. During the liberation struggle and years after that, our country has been an active player in international affairs. But we have faded into obscurity somewhat.
It is time to review our foreign policy positioning. Times have changed since the liberation struggle days. But we have a lot to share in terms of democratic progress.
Likewise, there are various things critical for our nation, region and continent that we can now focus on. These are things beyond politics such as health, technology and agriculture among many. These are areas we must take a lead in which have an impact on our people.
3. Integrity and maturity
The reputation of most of our leaders lies in tatters. Redemption is inevitable and a loud call. There is an urgent need for a different brand of leadership. Progressive leadership.
This we hope to see in your conduct as well as the approach you take in managing yourself and what you demand of your team.
Many a time, our political leaders have fallen for an unfortunate egotistic manner of leadership. Failing to read the mood or appreciate what the people desire. We expect maturity from you. In the way you handle national affairs, non-partisan events and even engagement with other players you may not be in agreement with such as opposition leaders and the media.
4. Refreshed vision
Every party is guided by its manifesto and agenda. That is understandable and acceptable.
However, there has been a critical direction taken over the last few years. That of having a national roadmap that outlines our aspirations beyond a sitting government. The Vision 2030 is this comprehensive and cardinal blueprint.
Please refresh and review this blueprint to ensure we remain on track. Even more importantly, let it be a transparent journey where we will all be kept abreast as we progress.
It is time to aspire for greater heights as a nation.
5. Challenge our institutions
Yes we have made headway in so many areas. But a lot more remain. Mr President, please use your new privileged position to steer our core institutions in the right direction.
Our Civil service, public institutions, Legislative and Judicial arms among others. Outline your expectations and let it be known what will need to become the norm in the conduct of their business.
Similarly, one of the institutions that must change its ways is the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ). They have done a commendable job in this election in spite of their challenging circumstances. But it must be noted that there are a lot of Zambians that have been disenfranchised.
Some have come of age but have not been registered. Others have moved from their last constituencies and registration points but could not be transferred to other stations. While still some may not have exercised their right to vote simply because of their hairstyles and nails!
Voter education is paramount. But even more necessary is for the ECZ to adhere to the law and ensure continuous voter registration is adopted. I believe failure to do this has been on account of a lack of political will as opposed to limited resources.
6. Talk to your people
Yes this may appear like a straight forward request. But it may also be an easily ignored undertaking. Take the necessary time to speak to your people.
Let us know what you are doing, achieving and planning. Let us know what you and your team are struggling with. Hear too what your people are seeing, experiencing and yearning to share with you.
Communication is paramount and we may not all have easy access to you or your office. Therefore, the more you reach out to us, the more we will willingly follow on our nation’s journey.
7. Infrastructure development must continue
We have over the last few years seen that it is possible to invest in our nation’s infrastructure. There has been debate about the source of these resources. That is another discussion.
However, we now know that time is not a factor and even within a year or three, so much can be done for our roads, health facilities, schools and even other high impact sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing.
We still face an uphill battle against poverty. You must not rest Mr President until you set in motion real momentum to reverse our ills. Our infrastructural development is a catalyst for the development we so much pursue.
8. Appoint on merit
You are but only one man, very human like all of us. Therefore, the people you surround yourself with will be the determinants of your success. Or failure.
This is where the wisdom you referred to during campaigns comes in. Pick people that are strong and will offer you the challenging support needed for you to deliver. This should also include as much as possible those people that can criticise you candidly when you need it.
By all means, do not surround yourself with praise singers and job seekers. This has been the failing of many gone before you.
Lastly, as you appoint your team, let this be meritorious and balanced. Search broadly and let your team be representative of our great nation’s diversity.
9.Meet the Opposition
This remains largely uncommon this part of the world. But the fact that it is rare does not entail it is impossible.
Extend an invitation and frequently engage the Opposition. For consultation and the exchange of ideas that will be helpful for our great nation. And this is not as a one off but as frequent as practically possible and value adding.
Yes even they want to win the next elections and you want to claim your own success, without outside influence.
But both your government and the opposition must remember that this is about Zambia. Not party or personal agendas. The nation’s progress must not be delayed until one is in office, Opposition or otherwise.
Extend the invitation and let it be accepted or rejected.
10. Humility and respect for the people
God grants leadership. This alone must always challenge you to remain humble and determined to serve to the best of your ability. Do not allow the trappings of power to steer you away from your noble job. Recognize God’s role in your current circumstances and let Him be your guide, no matter how difficult.
Additionally, if there is one thing this election has shown all of us, it is two things.
Firstly, that Zambians are tired of being taken for granted by our politicians and leaders. An average voter turnout of 32.36% is a source of huge concern. It is dangerous when the people decide not to care anymore and feel hopeless.
Secondly, it is the fact that Zambians are paying close attention to real issues and the quality of delivery. It is no longer about a road here and a clinic there. It is also about the commitment to honor promises or acknowledgement where delivery is delayed. Every leader must now pay close attention to this or ignore it at their own peril.
Please take note.
Once again, congratulations your Excellency and I can only wish you well. Yours is not an enviable role because of the enormity of expectations. It will not be easy. But it also is the best possible opportunity for you to make a mark and stand out as one of our exceptional leaders. In the end, it remains a choice you must make.
There will be no luxury of time as 2016 is but a few months away.
We will be watching closely. Make your mark on history Mr President.
God bless you and your government.
God bless our great nation, Zambia.