On 3rd September 2019, President Lungu made reshuffles at Permanent Secretary (PS) level. He indicated that he would not renew the contract of the current PS for the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock. This means that the Ministry will now have a new Minister and new PS. I do not wish to discuss the performance of the current PS whose contract ends this October, but I need to state that the problem at the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock is neither linked to individual Ministers nor Permanent Secretaries but systems failure. Professor Luo and the would-be PS maybe the best personnel for the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock provided they put in place robust systems at Ministerial Level, albeit general systems failure at a National level.
The would-be PS must know that the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock is unique, given a wide range of subsectors which can run independently of each other. I mean subsectors such as aquaculture, honey, dairy, beef, poultry, piggery, small ruminants and other production systems that encompass various animal categories.
The would-be PS must also know that the current Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock has over the years morphed from Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, to Ministry of Agriculture, to Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, to Ministry of Livestock & Fisheries Development, to Ministry of Agriculture & Livestock, and finally to the current Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock. Despite all these transformations, the Ministry has remained with neither a clear livestock strategy nor a livestock policy.
You cannot develop the livestock subsector without a clear strategy, focus and livestock policy. Therefore, the would-be PS must have the prowess to come and answer the following questions:
• Where are we in the livestock subsector?
• Where do we want to be?
• How do we intend to go where we want to be?
• Who will play what specific roles in what place?
• How do we get to know that we have gotten where we want to be as a subsector?
To the powers that be, if you can give us a technocrat PS that will come with answers to these questions or at least a PS that can have the capacity to engage the stakeholders to provide answers to these questions, then we may finally put functional progressive systems in place, which will eventually see the transformation of our developing livestock subsector into the ultimate national bread or meat basket. With a collective vision, as well as working plans at all levels of the Ministry, we can strategically increase funding to the livestock subsector. This is key because without these strategies or functional systems in place, we are going nowhere but continue paying lip service to what is proposed in the Seventh National Development Plan and eventually fail to actualise the vision 2030.
(The author is a Senior Lecturer of Livestock/Animal Health Economics at the University of Zambia, School of Veterinary Medicine. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Mobile: +260977717258)